Commissioners get flu season update

Nearly three years of isolation and people wearing face coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic likely suppressed the severity of influenza, but may now be a factor in why so many people in Linn County and across the country are feeling lousy, Dr. William Muth told the Board of Commissioners Tuesday morning, Dec. 20.

Commissioner Will Tucker asked Muth, also the Linn County Health Officer, about flu season, which appears to have hit hard and early. Tucker said that area hospitals are having difficulty finding open beds.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services some 23,503 people were hospitalized with lab-confirmed flu last week, down from 25,906 a week earlier.

Muth noted that most of the country had self-isolated from public events since the COVID-19 pandemic was identified in March 2020. That included wearing face coverings when people ventured into public spaces. Most people were no longer isolating and returning to jobs where face coverings were no longer mandatory, allowing influenza strains to mutate and become more aggressive.

“The influenza season hit early this year,” Muth said. “There were changes over the last couple years while influenza was held at bay. Now it’s out with a vengeance. It’s certainly more aggressive and it’s across the entire country. That’s the nature of these things.”

He added that the respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, was also strong this year after declining during the pandemic.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, influenza, COVID-19, and RSV are all highly contagious respiratory infections caused by viruses: the flu by influenza virus, COVID-19 by SARS-CoV-2 virus, and RSV by respiratory syncytial virus. It is possible for a person to be infected with multiple viruses at the same time.

In other business, the commissioners:

♦ Learned there were 75 births (39 males, 36 females) and 124 deaths in November.

♦ Approved a Support and Maintenance Agreement between the Linn County Sheriff’s Office and Siemens for the jail’s security system — including door controls, cameras and intercoms through Sept. 30, 2025.

♦ Approved continuation of an intergovernmental agreement for participation of the Linn County Sheriff’s Office in what is known as the Southwest 7, a program maintaining a Motorola radio system in Linn, Benton, Lane, Douglas, Josephine, Coos and Curry counties.

♦ Were informed there were 47 juvenile referrals to the Linn County Juvenile Department in November and 185 youth in the Probation Unit, either on probation or pending a court hearing. 40 are assessed as high-risk.

♦ Approved an intergovernmental agreement with the State of Oregon for the Accela permitting system through the Linn County Planning & Building Department.

– Alex Paul, Linn County Communications Officer