Starting Dec. 3, Lincoln County will enter the “high risk” category for Oregon’s Risk & Protection Framework.
This is due to a significant increase in cases over the last 2 weeks, with case rates increasing from 44 cases per 100 thousand people in the first two-weeks of November to 161.6 cases per 100,000 people in the last two weeks of November.
Lincoln County has launched a website with current information available from the state on this new framework here: www.co.lincoln.or.us/hhs/page/risk-protection-framework
Currently, Lincoln County is working various outbreaks including households outbreaks, as well as workplace outbreaks. Three have reached public reporting criteria. These include Avamere Rehabilitation of Newport, Chinook Winds Casino Resort and First Student bus company.
Public health announces business outbreaks if the business has at least 30 employees and five positive cases.
As of Nov. 30, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has reported five cases at Avamere Rehabilitation of Newport. Avamere had 51 cases and seven deaths from an outbreak earlier this year, which was first reported in June.
First Student bus company, with an address listed in Toledo, has a total of six cases with the most recent case reported on Nov. 24, OHA states.
OHA does not report data for Oregon casinos, as they are under their own tribal government. However, Lincoln County Public Health later confirmed that Chinook Winds Casino Resort had 10 confirmed cases of COVID-19 within its staff.
Additionally, OHA reported one positive case of a student at Newport Middle School on Nov. 21, one positive case of a student at Same Case Elementary on Nov. 16, as well as four positive cases (one student, three staff/volunteers) at Waldport Middle/High School on Nov. 19.
“It is extremely important that our local residents follow the guidelines announced by the State of Oregon this week, as well as all the guidelines we’ve been sharing since the beginning of the pandemic,” said Florence Pourtal, Deputy Director of Public Health. “We are in a different situation today than we were when we had a surge in cases last summer. Now, our local hospitals do not have many options left for transferring patients out to other hospitals as COVID cases have surged throughout the state for weeks and hospital capacity is limited. We also need to get our children back into schools.
"The new framework and the school metrics are aligned and being in the high risk category for our county means that the schools have to start thinking about how to transition back to comprehensive distance learning only for all kids. This will be a throwback for everyone if we do not get this surge under control.”
Oregon and Lincoln County have been planning for COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Current plans will give priority to some healthcare workers and long-term care facilities for the first round of vaccines, then additional at-risk populations. It is unknown how many vaccines Lincoln County will get initially. Public Health will be creating a vaccine information website for the public to stay up to date.
“Despite this news, we have reasons to be hopeful,” said Rebecca Austen, Health Department Director. “We have lowered our cases dramatically before, and we can do it again. There are also vaccines moving forward now in trials and securing emergency use authorizations at the federal level. We could see some as early as the end of this month available for some of the healthcare workforce in Oregon.”
For more information on COVID-19 and resources visit https://govstatus.egov.com/or-oha-covid-resources
Lincoln County Resource Guides in English & Spanish: https://www.co.lincoln.or.us/hhs/page/covid-19-resources