▶️ Local health officials expect COVID spike to continue; schools to stay the course

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The number of COVID-19 cases keeps going up, putting renewed stress on public health, but the number of vaccines going into arms is also on the rise.

The OHA reported 57 new COVID cases in Deschutes County Thursday; 17 patients are hospitalized and five are in the ICU.

“We are always concerned when our hospital or ICU’s are full and this represents 17 patients that typically would not be hospitalized this time of year,” said Dr. Jeff Absalon, the Chief Physician Executive at St. Charles.

Overall, there are nearly 1,400 active cases countywide.

He says the average age of hospitalized COVID patients is shifting from 64-years-old, earlier in the pandemic, to 56-years-old, now.

“One, is our vaccine efforts really have worked to protect some of our most vulnerable populations, but this also points out that we are still in a pandemic,” said Absalon.

There isn’t a single reason for the spike in cases. 

“Oftentimes they are coming from things like people letting their guard down, getting together for gatherings without wearing masks or distancing,” said Morgan Emerson with Deschutes County Public Health.

“We received over 4,000 first doses for the week and we have been able to fill all of those appointments for the week,” she added.

She expects that trend to continue.

As of Thursday, 83,368 Deschutes County residents have been vaccinated.

But is it enough to keep kids in the classroom?

“Bend-La Pine is going to continue to offer full on-site learning five days a week for our students and will continue to do so despite local rising cases,” said Bend-La Pine Schools Safe and Healthy Schools Administrator Paul Dean.

He says that would only change if there’s an increase in school transmission.

Absalon says the virus is still very active in our community.

“It is not gone, it’s with us today and will be with us for a while, so we do need to adhere to all of our preventative measures,” said Absalon.

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