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Health officials urge boosters as omicron variant is expected in Oregon

Melorie Begay/KLCC News
Lane County Public Health is offering COVID boosters.

Not much is known about the omicron variant so far, but local health officials say people should keep taking the usual COVID precautions.

Lane County’s Senior Public Health officer Dr. Patrick Luedtke told KLCC it’s unknown if omicron causes more severe illness or if it’s more transmissible than other variants.

He recommends booster shots.

“Everybody who’s eligible should get a booster,” Luetke said. “Partly because of the omicron variant. But partly because the Delta variant is still out there, causing a lot of disease. Our last sequencing report for Lane County all the cases were Delta. So. there’s a lot of disease out there.”

Luedtke said COVID vaccines are in good supply, but like other sectors, the county faces staffing shortages. Public health is offering boosters at the Lane County Events Center and at mobile clinics.

Luedtke said Lane County’s case numbers have dropped considerably since late summer. And hospitalizations are down.

“Today, we only have 29 people in the hospital with COVID,” Luedtke said Thursday. “Only three in the ICU amongst all of our five hospitals in Lane County. Those are wonderfully small numbers. We were well over 100 in the hospital for quite some weeks with Delta.”

Luedtke said omicron has the potential to cause problems but we still don’t know enough about it. He expects the winter months to be challenging since the virus likes cold weather. He recommends vaccinations, boosters, and other COVID precautions.

Copyright 2021 KLCC.

Rachael McDonald is KLCC’s host for All Things Considered on weekday afternoons. She also is the editor of the KLCC Extra, the daily digital newspaper. Rachael has a BA in English from the University of Oregon. She started out in public radio as a newsroom volunteer at KLCC in 2000.