Falling COVID numbers improve Linn County’s risk category

Linn County’s reported COVID-19 case numbers are dropping following the early-winter surge that put the county in the Extreme Risk category.
On Feb. 9 the Oregon Health Authority dropped the county from Extreme to High Risk, based on the reduced numbers recorded over the two weeks prior to that date.
The county dropped from 264 confirmed and presumptive cases in the 10-day span of Jan. 10-23, to 199 from Jan. 17-30, then experienced a slight up-tick from Jan. 24 through Feb. 6 as it recorded 211 cases. But that was enough to qualify for the next lower risk category after two months-plus as Extreme Risk.
“Not only are we watching what number we come in, but how well we do come in under it, because the closer we are to the number in the way of trending, you get more concerned about where we are in two weeks,” said Linn County Commission Chair Roger Nyquist.
“Opening and then closing again is hard on restaurants with inventory and bringing people back to work. It also doesn’t lead to consumer confidence either. So people need to feel good about going back out.
“The next conversation that I hope they have internally is, instead of these bright lines, that it’s more of a sliding scale,” Nyquist said. “As an example, this last period, I had initially thought we made it, and then I thought we were within one or two and should’ve made it, and the OHA didn’t see it that way. But bottom line is, a few positive tests done into itself reflect inherent risk, and it shouldn’t be, you know, ‘you’re closed or you can operate at 50 percent.’ I mean, the line should not be that bright.”
Meanwhile, Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen and Gov. Kate Brown provided an update on COVID-19 in Oregon Friday, Feb. 5, that included new information on who is eligible to get a vaccination and where they will be available.
Also on Feb. 5 the OHA reported that Oregon had surpassed 2,000 deaths associated with the coronavirus.
As of Feb. 10, Lebanon had recorded 808 reported COVID cases, a rate of 266.1 per 10,000 population, according to the OHA. Sweet Home had 253, a rate of 172.2 per 10,000, while the population in Albany’s three zip codes had a total of 1,970 cases, accounting for the vast majority of Linn County’s total of 3,442 cases. The county has also recorded 51 deaths from COVID, according to the OHA.
Vaccine Information
In a news conference Friday, Allen and Brown announced that they expect to have vaccinated Oregonians age 65 and older who want a vaccine by early April, a month sooner than we previously estimated, due to an increase in federal allocation of vaccine doses.
Health officials expect to be able to vaccinate front-line workers and people with chronic conditions by early April.
Oregonians 80 and older became eligible for vaccinations Monday, Feb. 8, and the OHA predicted “some frustration due to the limited supply.” The OHA is introducing new web tools and staffed-up 211 lines (supported by the Oregon National Guard) that will connect residents to vaccine information.
In Linn County, vaccination information is available at www.linncountyhealth.org/ph/page/covid-19-vaccines-information.
“In Linn County there are multiple places that vaccines are going,” Nyquist said. “In large part, Samaritan Health and Linn County are working together on distributing those things, but there are also vaccines are going out to pharmacies as well.”
Linn County is providing vaccinations at the Linn County Expo Center, 3700 Knox Butte Road, Albany. Appointments are required, and can be made at that website.
Appointments are full for this week, according to the county, and vaccinations will be limited to seniors 80 and over, childcare providers and early learning or K-12 educators and school staff.
For more information on getting a vaccine in Linn County, call (541) 497-8490.
The OHA said that “starting soon,” some seniors will be able to get vaccinations at some retail pharmacies.
Seniors can also get vaccine information by texting ORCOVID to 898211 to get text/SMS updates about vaccination clinics (available in English and Spanish). Seniors can also email [email protected].
If you can’t get your COVID-19 vaccine question answered on the website, by text, or by email, you can call 211 or 1-866-698-6155, which is open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, including holidays. Wait times may be long due to high call volumes.
– Lebanon Local Staff