Prevention has been key for Lincoln County Public Health. And their efforts has the county on track for Phase 2 of the Governor’s Reopening Oregon plan.

After Oregon Gov. Kate Brown approved Lincoln County for Phase 2 in late August, the Board of Commissioners decided to pump the brakes following several outbreaks throughout Lincoln County. The Commissioners pushed the Phase 2 date to Sept. 29 and after discussions this week with Public Health Director Rebecca Austen and Oregon Health Authority Director Pat Allen, the county leaders are ready to make the move to Phase 2.

“It is looking really good,” Austen said of latest data at the Board of Commissioners meeting on Monday. “This last week, we were sort of celebrating meeting all of our Phase 2 metrics for the reopening criteria.”

Lincoln County currently sits at 473 total cases. 23 hospitalizations (nobody currently in hospital), and 13 deaths. Austen credits Public Health’s prevention to knowing where the hotspots are within the community and working with local businesses, schools and organizations to mitigate the spread.

“The trend is good,” Allen said during the meeting. “I don’t anticipate anything changing in that when we look at those numbers this week. I think you’re in great shape to to move into Phase 2.”

Although the data looks good for Lincoln County, one area of concern through the state is testing volume decreasing, likely due to wildfires and a temporary disruption in processing tests, according to health officials. Commissioner Claire Hall asked Allen if there is a concern with testing being down. Allen said no, because testing is not as frequent in regular hospital visits the past few weeks, which is where most negative tests occur. Austen agrees that testing volume is not a large issue, because they’ve been watching the downward trend in Lincoln County for several weeks now.

“Given all this information, I don’t think I’d have any reservations whatsoever in supporting going into Phase 2 Sept. 29,” Hall said.

Commissioner Doug Hunt asked about issue with access to testing kits, which has been an issue nationwide. Allen said the situation is improving as they continue to tap into State resources.

“We still suffer from our own success,” Allen said. “We are among the lowest in mortality rates so we don’t get prioritized like other states that have higher disease rates.”

The Board of Commissioners decided to stick with the Sept. 29 date for Phase 2 and also voted to lift the 24-hour cleaning hold on short-term lodging in the unincorporated areas, effective immediately.

“I think the work that our public health department has done has been outstanding,” Hunt said. “I’ll give credit to our Governor for the mandatory masks, I think that has been a very significant factor in reducing the spread of the virus. I certainly at this point am comfortable moving to Phase 2.”

However, Public Health will continue to watch what happens in the aftermath of the wildfire event, opening of schools and down trend of testing.


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