Lane County Issues Emergency Advisory As COVID Cases Surge
Lane County Public Health gave a sobering COVID-19 update to the Board of Health today/Tuesday. Its commissioners responded by issuing an Emergency Public Health Advisory.
Over the last week, Lane County has seen thousand new cases. Hospitals are overwhelmed. There are more infectious residents now than at any other time in the pandemic.
The emergency advisory calls for all people, businesses, and employers to take immediate protective health measures in indoor spaces: masking and distancing.
Dr. Patrick Luedtke stressed that as cases increase, a few weeks pass and then comes a corresponding rise in hospitalizations and deaths.
“We have an opportunity to nudge our community to be safer to prevent some of those deaths," Luedtke said. "We’re not going to prevent them all but we can make a difference in the number of people who die and the number of people whose lives are really upended perhaps by a hospitalization or a death in their family.”
The advisory is not a mandate but rather a public “message” to get back to proven practices for slowing the spread of the disease.
Jocelyn Warren is Public Health Division Manager.
“We are hoping that issuing this advisory can immediately bring to the floor the state that we are in right now with our community," she said. "We really need people to understand that we need vaccinated as well as unvaccinated people to mask and to use all the preventative measures that we have in the past.”
Warren said the spread among children adds to the urgency. As the largest pool of unvaccinated residents, kids under twelve are at risk of infection and transmission. Especially now with the highly infectious Delta variant.
Lane County Public Health was notified of 108 young people between five and 18 years old who tested positive last week and 50 cases in that age group were identified over the weekend.
Commissioner Jay Bozievich spoke up in full support of the emergency advisory, which was approved 5 to 0. He said the pandemic continues to seriously impact businesses as he described one Veneta restaurant that had to close because there was a COVID-19 outbreak in their wholesaler’s facility. They couldn’t get food.
“This is about protecting our businesses in Lane County," Bozievich said. "Please don’t argue with an employee who asks you to wear a mask into a business. Please don’t make fun of your friends for wearing masks.”
Public Health reported 264 new cases on Tuesday (08/10/21) for a total of 16,449 since the start of the pandemic. There are 64 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19. Thirty-three of those patients are Lane County residents. There are 929 people considered infectious and under observation. The county death toll is 179.
The Public Health Emergency Advisory went into effect in Lane County immediately upon approval, Tuesday morning.
BEFORE THE BOARD OF HEALTH OF LANE COUNTY, OREGON
RESOLUTION & ORDER NO:IN THE MATTER OF AN EMERGENCY PUBLIC HEALTH ADVISORY CALLING FOR ALL INDIVIDUALS, BUSINESSES AND EMPLOYERS TO TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION ON MASKING AND OTHER PERSONAL PROTECTIVE MEASURES AGAINST THE DELTA VARIANT SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19
WHEREAS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on July 28, 2021, revised previous public health guidance calling on individuals, regardless of vaccination status, to resume masking, distancing, and take other personal protective measures in light of growing evidence of greater transmissibility of the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant of SARS-CoV-2; and
WHEREAS, the Oregon Health Authority affirmed the revised CDC guidance on the day of its issuance; and
WHEREAS, confirmed case rates during the four weeks ending August 9th in Lane County have grown from 21 cases per 100,000 of population to 267 cases per 100,000, exceeding the CDC threshold of “high transmission” of 100 cases per 100,000 by more than 2.5 times; and
WHEREAS, the number of individuals being currently tracked as infectious within Lane County is the highest by a factor of two as compared to the previous high during the winter surge of November 2020 – January 2021; and
WHEREAS, the number of hospitalizations of Lane County residents with COVID-19 is likewise exceeding daily census counts observed during the winter surge and stressing the capacity of our local hospital system; and
WHEREAS, Lane County, as Oregon’s second largest regional hospital hub, is receiving patients from other counties in Southwest Oregon; and
WHEREAS, statewide hospital capacity for COVID-19 patients is of growing concern as over 590 individuals were in hospital in Oregon on August 9, 2021, over 150 of whom were in Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds.
WHEREAS, the people of Lane County have demonstrated their ability to voluntarily follow public health measures with sufficient rigor throughout the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in lower case rates, hospitalizations, and deaths when compared to jurisdictions of similar size and demographics in Oregon and around the United States.
NOW, THEREFORE, the Board of Health of Lane County RESOLVES and ORDERS as follows:
The issuance of an Emergency Public Health Advisory in Lane County calling for all individuals, businesses and employers to take immediate protective health measures in indoor shared spaces regardless of current vaccination status.
The Emergency Public Health Advisory specifically calls for all individuals, businesses and employers to ensure that indoor masking is adhered to for those older than five years of age (two and older if tolerated), regardless of vaccination status; maintaining distance from individuals outside of immediate households when inside indoor shared spaces; practicing good hand washing and sanitation hygiene; and other relevant measures are necessary to limit ongoing community spread and save lives in Lane County, and should begin or be resumed immediately for anyone who hasn’t yet adopted these practices.
That the Emergency Public Health Advisory be promulgated by Lane County Public Health with the urgency and speed that this matter requires.
ADOPTED thisday of August, 2021.
Joe Berney, Chair
Lane County Board of Health
APPROVED AS TO FORM
LANE COUNTY OFFICE OF LEGAL COUNSEL