▶️ Health expert says small gatherings, lack of masks to blame for case spike

By HANNAH SIEVERT
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

Last week, COVID-19 cases in Deschutes County nearly doubled from the week before, going from 150 to 282.

This week, cases continue to rise.

“We are very, very busy right now,” Carissa Heinige, case investigation branch director with Deschutes County Public Health, said. “Long days, long hours.”

Heinige attributes the bump in cases to people gathering without distancing and without masks.

“We had some big events,” Heinige said. “There was spring break travel that had some cases. Easter weekend, there was a lot of social gatherings, things like that.”

This week’s weekly report from the Oregon Health Authority listed active outbreaks in Deschutes County at businesses including Tetherow and at a child care center. The two added 13 and eleven cases, respectively.

It also shows 53 cases connected to Summit High School – but most from an outbreak earlier this year.

But Heinige said the county’s spike can’t be tied to a lone culprit.

“It’s not particularly one business location,” Heinige said. “Social behaviors are driving a lot.”

Young people make up around 22% of Deschutes County’s active cases, according to the county’s website. People 80 and older make up around 3%.

Heinige said people who are half-vaccinated, meaning people who have received one dose of a two-shot vaccine, are also not to blame.

“We’re not seeing a large portion of our cases are people who have had one dose of the vaccine and have completely disregarded safety practices,” Heinige said.

Heinige wants to remind the public that a person is not considered appropriately protected after the first dose of a two-shot vaccine. It takes around two weeks after the second shot to be considered fully vaccinated.

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