LINCOLN COUNTY — At the July 26 regular meeting of the Lincoln Board of Commissioners, Interim Public Health Director Florence Pourtal reported on the rise in cases of COVID-19 and predicted more to come.
“Are we going to see more cases? Yes,” she said.
Pourtal alerted commissioners Claire Hall and Kaety Jacobson to the presence of the Delta variant, much more contagious and estimated to to be 80% of cases in Oregon.
Those vaccinated can still contract the virus, particularly the Delta variant, Pourtal explained, in breakthrough cases.
However, those represent a small amount of cases in Oregon, and virtually all deaths and hospitalizations are among the those who are unvaccinated.
She noted a vaccinated person can contract the virus and be asymptomatic, but still spread the virus, placing those who are unable to be vaccinated, such as children and those who are immune compromised, at risk.
“It doesn’t mean they weren’t protected,” she said, “It means they would have been much sicker.”
“We’re doing a good job,” she said, with nearly 73 percent of those eligible vaccinated, and the numbers going up slowly, but steadily.
The following day, on July 27, Oregon Health Authority issued a recommendation for universal mask use.
“Oregon Health Authority’s recommendation aligns with the CDC’s new guidance issued today that everyone, including fully vaccinated persons, wear a mask in public indoor settings. [The] recommendation applies statewide, and not just areas with higher infections and high transmission,” detailed a press release from the health authority.
On July 28, Pourtal released a public health information update, in which she pointed out that we know how to minimize the spread of COVID-19 — those who can by getting vaccinated, and by wearing a mask.
Acknowledging how tired everyone is of the pandemic, Pourtal wrote, “Trust me, healthcare workers and public health workers are tired of it too! But this is not over. We need to adapt and react fast to these new variants, so we can curb the increase in cases and prevent the virus from mutating again and possibly becoming more resistant to the vaccines we have available to us.”
Pourtal concluded, “This message is not intended to create anxiety or fear or frustration! It is merely intended to share with you the latest information we have available so that you can make the best decision for yourself and your family.”