Deschutes Co. adds 1,402 COVID cases over weekend; 76 now hospitalized

There are 17 new COVID-19-related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 5,953, the Oregon Health Authority reported Monday.

Oregon’s 5,944th COVID-19-related death is a 67-year-old woman from Deschutes County who died Dec. 6, 2021, at her residence. The death certificate listed COVID-19 disease or SARS-CoV-2 as a cause of death or a significant condition contributing to death. The presence of underlying conditions is being confirmed.

The OHA reported 19,400 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total to 590,270.

The 17 new deaths and 19,400 new cases reported today include data recorded by counties for the three-day period between Jan. 21 and Jan. 23.

  • Jan. 21: 4,922
  • Jan. 22: 10,862
  • Jan. 23: 3,616

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (41), Benton (461), Clackamas (1,532), Clatsop (104), Columbia (165), Coos (204), Crook (200), Curry (64), Deschutes (1,402), Douglas (228), Gilliam (14), Grant (36), Harney (28), Hood River (64), Jackson (1,113), Jefferson (105), Josephine (343), Klamath (448), Lake (4), Lane (2,048), Lincoln (213), Linn (834), Malheur (188), Marion (1,940), Morrow (71), Multnomah (2,940), Polk (425), Sherman (37), Tillamook (66), Umatilla (541), Union (125), Wallowa (28), Wasco (209), Washington (2,722) and Yamhill (457).

More Oregonians receive COVID-19 booster doses

Oregon continues to move closer to meeting Gov. Kate Brown’s goal, announced Dec. 17, of getting 1 million more people in the state a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of January.

When the challenge began, 949,749 people had received a booster dose. Since then, 451,268 Oregonians have received a booster.

As of today, Oregon needs 548,732 people to get a booster to reach the goal and make our state safer from the Omicron variant. Find a booster here.

COVID-19 hospitalizations

St. Charles on Monday reported it had 76 COVID patients; seven are in the ICU and four are on ventilators. 

Of those 76 patients, 28 are fully vaccinated.

The number represents those with “active COVID” upon admission and require special isolation or treatment. It does not include patients who are there for other reasons and also happen to test positive for COVID.

**A person is considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19 ≥ two weeks after receipt of the second dose in a 2-dose series (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) or ≥ two weeks after receipt of the single dose of the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine.**

The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 1,045, which is 19 more than yesterday. There are 161 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is two more than yesterday.

There are 48 available adult ICU beds out of 643 total (7% availability) and 243 available adult non-ICU beds out of 4,096 (6% availability).

1/24/2022 Available Beds (and Percentage of Staffed Beds Available)

Statewide

Region 1

Region 2

Region 3

Region 5

Region 6

Region 7

Region 9

Adult ICU beds available

48

(7%)

19

(6%)

4

(5%)

6

(7%)

6

(10%)

1

(10%)

7

(17%)

5

(19%)

Adult non-ICU beds available

243

(6%)

71

(4%)

11

(2%)

28

(5%)

37

(8%)

9

(18%)

46

(12%)

41

(34%)

Statewide regions are as follows:

Region 1: Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Multnomah, Tillamook and Washington counties

Region 2: Benton, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Polk and Yamhill counties

Region 3: Coos, Curry, Douglas and Lane counties

Region 5: Jackson and Josephine counties

Region 6: Hood River, Gilliam, Sherman and Wasco counties

Region 7: Crook, Deschutes, Grant, Harney, Jefferson, Klamath, Lake and Wheeler counties

Region 9: Baker, Malheur, Morrow, Umatilla, Union and Wallowa counties

The total number of patients in hospital beds may fluctuate between report times. The numbers do not reflect admissions per day, nor the length of hospital stay. Staffing limitations are not captured in this data and may further limit bed capacity.

Note: Please do not visit an emergency department for COVID-19 testing, unless you require emergency care for your symptoms.

Emergency departments in Oregon are under significant strain. You can find a test here. If you have a medical condition that doesn’t require emergency care, contact your provider. An urgent care center may also help you get the care you need and will save emergency departments from added strain.

More information about hospital capacity can be found here.

Vaccinations in Oregon

Today, OHA reported that 5,285 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry on Jan. 23. Of that total, 352 were initial doses, 261 were second doses and 1,644 were third doses and booster doses. The remaining 3,005 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry Jan. 23.

The seven-day running average is now 12,159 doses per day.

Oregon has now administered 4,003,118 doses of Pfizer Comirnaty, 202,343 doses of Pfizer pediatric, 2,632,405 doses of Moderna and 263,464 doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.

As of today, 3,112,692 people have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 2,814,714 people have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series.

These data are preliminary and subject to change.

Updated vaccination data are provided on Oregon’s COVID-19 data dashboards and have been updated today.

 

Reduced quarantine times for BLS students hinges on change in lunch plans

Bend-La Pine School Board members on Tuesday will vote on a proposal that would shorten quarantine and isolation times for COVID-positive students and staff, but the district will need to change the current lunch situation to make it happen.

The proposal from Superintendent Steve Cook comes following new guidance from the CDC and OHA that says those who test positive for COVID, regardless of vaccination status, must stay home for five days and can return to school on day six if they’ve been fever-free for 24 hours.

Cook said he’s talked with districts across the region and state and every one of them had implemented the changes, but the rules around isolating students in days 6-10 presents a challenge for Bend-La Pine’s staff during lunch periods. 

“We are currently implementing a resource-demanding lunch plan at every school to cohort students as much as possible and to space them out throughout the school as much as possible to minimize spread of the virus and, subsequently, loss of learning time for students due to possible exclusion,” the plan said. 

So Cook proposes removing that plan and allowing students to once again eat lunch in their school cafeterias instead of the classroom (when they’re allowed to eat inside.)

“This would free up a tremendous amount of supervision responsibility and a tremendous number of rooms/spaces that are currently being used to cohort student lunch groups,” the plan said. “It would also provide the opportunity to give a lot of relief to staff who can’t use their rooms during student lunch due to students eating their lunches in these rooms and reduce the load on custodial staff and teachers who are cleaning lunch mess in many classrooms.”

If the board approves the recommendation, the district can transition to shortened quarantine and isolation periods.

▶️ BLS elementary students to eat lunch outside ‘as weather permits’

Cook said the implementation of the current plan varies to some degree at school, but the high degree of required staff supervision was consistent across the district. 

The CDC/OHA recommendations get kids back into the classroom more quickly, but it’s a tough ask of staff right now.

“Any new demands or additional asks to the plates of our teachers, our administrators and the staff in our schools will take a tremendous toll on staff morale,” he said. 

Students will still eat breakfast in their classrooms and eat lunch outside when weather permits.

When students must eat inside they’ll do so in designated areas and with assigned seating 6-feet apart to the extent possible. 

And they’ll be required to keep their masks on as they move through the foodservice line.

To return to the traditional lunch plan, Cook said schools would be expected to have a supervised space for isolated students returning to school for days 6-10 that is separate from the general population.

“This recommendation aligns us to the current guidelines of all of our public health partners, brings us in closer alignment with the plans of other districts both in the region and the state and most importantly could provide some supervision relief to our beleaguered staff,” he said. 

The school board will meet on Tuesday night in a special meeting at 5:30.

 

Hope seen once the omicron wave increases global immunity

World health officials are offering hope that the ebbing of the omicron wave could usher in a new, more manageable phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.

They warn of difficult weeks ahead and the possibility of another, more dangerous variant arising. But the overall tone is hopeful. U.S. cases have crested and are dropping rapidly, following a pattern seen in Britain and South Africa.

Researchers project a period of low spread in many countries by the end of March.

Rosy predictions have crumbled before, but this time they are backed by what could be called omicron’s silver lining: The highly contagious variant will leave behind extremely high levels of immunity.

OHA adds 10,947 COVID cases; hospitalizations expected to peak in early Feb.

There are 20 new COVID-19-related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 5,936, the Oregon Health Authority reported Friday.

OHA reported 10,947 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total to 570,892.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (40), Benton (181), Clackamas (845), Clatsop (80), Columbia (201), Coos (200), Crook (114), Curry (28), Deschutes (663), Douglas (226), Gilliam (1), Harney (1), Hood River (43), Jackson (661), Jefferson (213), Josephine (243), Klamath (253), Lake (11), Lane (1,196), Lincoln (109), Linn (480), Malheur (99), Marion (1,221), Morrow (43), Multnomah (1,487), Polk (261), Tillamook (38), Umatilla (317), Union (68), Wallowa (20), Wasco (72), Washington (1,280) and Yamhill (252).

OHA briefs media on rising hospitalizations, surging cases

Health Officer and State Epidemiologist Dean Sidelinger, M.D., M.S.Ed., briefed media today on the latest developments in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although cases and hospitalizations are surging, Sidelinger spoke about the difference Oregonians are making by wearing masks, indoors and outdoors, by restricting gatherings and by staying home when sick or upon a positive test.

“There is some light at the end of this very dark tunnel. The recent modeling suggests that cases could peak within the next week or so with hospitalizations – a lagging indicator – peaking in the following weeks,” he said.

More importantly, the forecast shows the difference everyone in Oregon is making by continuing to take preventive steps.

The projected peak for hospitalizations is about 1,500 in early February.

Without the widespread adherence, the state has seen from Oregonians, the curve would be much steeper – about 1,900 hospitalizations.

“The critical difference here in Oregon is you,” Sidelinger said.

A recording of the briefing is here.

More Oregonians receive COVID-19 booster doses

Oregon continues to move closer to meeting Gov. Kate Brown’s goal, announced Dec. 17, of getting 1 million more people in the state a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of January.

When the challenge began, 949,749 people had received a booster dose. Since then, 428,592 Oregonians have received a booster.

As of today, Oregon needs 571,408 people to get a booster to reach the goal and make our state safer from the Omicron variant. Find a booster here.

COVID-19 hospitalizations

St. Charles on Friday afternoon reported it had 79 COVID patients; three are in the ICU and three are on ventilators. 

Of those 70 patients, 26 are fully vaccinated.

The number represents those with “active COVID” upon admission and require special isolation or treatment. It does not include patients who are there for other reasons and also happen to test positive for COVID.

**A person is considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19 ≥ two weeks after receipt of the second dose in a 2-dose series (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) or ≥ two weeks after receipt of the single dose of the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine.**

The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 1,091, which is 38 more than yesterday. There are 144 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is two more than yesterday.

There are 46 available adult ICU beds out of 664 total (7% availability) and 281 available adult non-ICU beds out of 4,118 (7% availability).

1/21/2022 Available Beds (and Percentage of Staffed Beds Available)

Statewide

Region 1

Region 2

Region 3

Region 5

Region 6

Region 7

Region 9

Adult ICU beds available

46

(7%)

20

(6%)

2

(2%)

14

(15%)

4

(7%)

2

(20%)

4

(10%)

0

(0%)

Adult non-ICU beds available

281

(7%)

34

(2%)

10

(2%)

86

(15%)

34

(8%)

6

(12%)

71

(18%)

40

(34%)

Statewide regions are as follows:

Region 1: Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Multnomah, Tillamook and Washington counties

Region 2: Benton, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Polk and Yamhill counties

Region 3: Coos, Curry, Douglas and Lane counties

Region 5: Jackson and Josephine counties

Region 6: Hood River, Gilliam, Sherman and Wasco counties

Region 7: Crook, Deschutes, Grant, Harney, Jefferson, Klamath, Lake and Wheeler counties

Region 9: Baker, Malheur, Morrow, Umatilla, Union and Wallowa counties

The total number of patients in hospital beds may fluctuate between report times. The numbers do not reflect admissions per day, nor the length of hospital stay. Staffing limitations are not captured in this data and may further limit bed capacity.

Note: Please do not visit an emergency department for COVID-19 testing, unless you require emergency care for your symptoms.

Emergency departments in Oregon are under significant strain. You can find a test here. If you have a medical condition that doesn’t require emergency care, contact your provider. An urgent care center may also help you get the care you need and will save emergency departments from added strain.

More information about hospital capacity can be found here.

Vaccinations in Oregon

Today, OHA reported that 18,631 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry on Jan. 20. Of that total, 1,378 were initial doses, 947 were second doses and 5,835 were third doses and booster doses. The remaining 10,376 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry Jan. 20.

The seven-day running average is now 14,408 doses per day.

Oregon has now administered 3,984,841 doses of Pfizer Comirnaty, 199,476 doses of Pfizer pediatric, 2,622,243 doses of Moderna and 262,847 doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.

As of today, 3,106,988 people have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 2,811,310 people have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series.

These data are preliminary and subject to change.

Updated vaccination data are provided on Oregon’s COVID-19 data dashboards and have been updated today.

 

Bend-La Pine Schools student group calls for ‘sick strike’ Monday

An organized group of Bend-La Pine students is calling for a mass sick-out on Monday saying the current COVID situation has created “a substantial health risk” within local schools. 

“We are not safe, as this (omicron) variant alone has resulted in the largest amount of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic,” the Bend-La Pine Student Union group wrote in an Instagram post on Friday. “We pledge to take direct action against the inhumane school conditions we continue to be subjected to, starting with a sick strike.”

The group has about 500 Instagram followers and only a handful of Facebook followers, so it’s unclear how or if the message is making its way to the district’s student population at large. 

We’ve reached out for comment, but have not yet heard back. (School was still in session when we called.)

In the Instagram post, the group said it will have a list of “common sense alterations the district can make to improve school safety” by Monday.

School district officials said they had not heard about the planned strike and hoped to get more information.

Local COVID cases in the last month have jumped by more than 1,100% as the omicron variant continues to surge.

In Deschutes County right now, more than 13,000 people (1 in 14 residents) have COVID-19.

According to the most recent numbers on the Bend-La Pine Schools COVID dashboard, 680 students on Thursday were out with COVID and another 242 were quarantined due to exposure. 

Thirty-eight staff members were out with COVID or quarantined due to exposure.

Bend-La Pine Schools has around 18,000 students and 2,000 staff members.

The district has told families it wants to do everything it can to keep kids in the classroom, despite the COVID surge.

Superintendent Steven Cook said individual classrooms or schools could return to remote learning if staffing issues arose, but so far that hasn’t been necessary. 

The district says it’s taking steps to reduce potential exposure by limiting spectators at sporting events, making testing available in all schools, providing medical-grade and KN95 masks to students and staff and urging parents to step up the masks game for kids. 

In the student group’s call to action, they say “our health is not a game; we are not disposable.”

This story will be updated.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Bend-La Pine Student Union (@bls.studentunion)

Booster shots needed against omicron, CDC studies show

NEW YORK (AP) — Three new U.S. studies offer more evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines are standing up to the omicron variant, at least among people who have gotten booster shots.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the studies Friday. The results echo previous research — including studies in Germany, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.

They found available vaccines are less effective against omicron than they were against earlier versions of the coronavirus.

One of the papers found that two doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines offered no significant protection against omicron.

Several studies have concluded a booster can significantly improve protection.

OHA adds 10,034 COVID cases; weekly hospitalizations, deaths decline

There are eight new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 5,916, the Oregon Health Authority reported Thursday..

The OHA reported 10,034 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total to 559,960.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (25), Benton (278), Clackamas (776), Clatsop (79), Columbia (107), Coos (142), Crook (45), Curry (38), Deschutes (675), Douglas (204), Grant (65), Harney (4), Hood River (52), Jackson (508), Jefferson (128), Josephine (157), Klamath (146), Lake (4), Lane (747), Lincoln (169), Linn (575), Malheur (143), Marion (1,073), Morrow (50), Multnomah (1,434), Polk (226), Sherman (3), Tillamook (54), Umatilla (288), Union (61), Wallowa (13), Wasco (65), Washington (1,400), Wheeler (7) and Yamhill (293).

Deschutes County on Thursday reported 13,644 active COVID cases – that’s 1 in 14 residents. 

COVID-19 weekly cases rise, hospitalizations and deaths decline

OHA’s COVID-19 Weekly Report released today shows an increase in daily cases and a drop in hospitalizations and deaths.

OHA reported 52,337 new cases of COVID-19 during the week of Monday, Jan. 10, through Sunday, Jan. 16. That is an 11% increase from the previous week and another weekly high for the pandemic.

There were 320,710 tests for COVID-19 for the week of Jan. 9 through Jan. 15, a 24% increase over the previous week and a new weekly high. The percentage of positive tests rose to 22%, up from 21% last week.

There were 441 new COVID-19 hospitalizations, down from 486 last week.

There were 83 reported COVID-19-related deaths, down from the 113 reported the previous week.

Today’s COVID-19 Weekly Outbreak Report shows 210 active COVID-19 outbreaks in senior living communities and congregate living settings, with three or more confirmed cases and one or more COVID-19 related deaths.

OHA releases new COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough report

OHA’s most recent update on COVID-19 breakthrough cases, released today, reported 55,612 cases of COVID-19 during the week of Jan. 9 to Jan.15.

Of those cases, 45,042, or 81%, were unvaccinated people and 10,570, or 19%, were vaccine breakthrough cases.

The average age of the breakthrough cases during that period was 38. Fifty-three breakthrough cases involved residents of care facilities, senior living communities or other congregate care settings. There were 958 cases in people aged 12 to 17.

To date, there have been 88,293 COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough cases in Oregon. The average age of all cases is 42. Breakthrough cases have been reported in all 36 counties.

Cases of COVID-19 are far more common in unvaccinated people. The report shows that the rate of COVID-19 in unvaccinated people is more than five times higher than in vaccinated people.

To date, 3.2% of all vaccine breakthrough cases have been hospitalized and 0.8% have died. The average age of vaccinated people who have died is 81.

Vaccination remains the most effective tool to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Oregonians are encouraged to get vaccinated and, if eligible, to get a booster shot.

The latest breakthrough report can be found here.

Pediatric cases update

COVID-19 cases continue to be high among children ages 0 to 17 with the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant, according to the latest weekly dashboard report of pediatric COVID-19 case data in Oregon.

Pediatric dashboard and Weekly Data Report update

In the face of rapidly rising Omicron cases, public health authorities are focused on responding to outbreaks in high-risk settings and no longer required to interview individual cases and conduct contact tracing.

With the transition to an opt-in model of case investigation, data on timely public health follow-up (percentage of COVID-19 cases where public health initiated follow-up within 24 hours) and the percentage of COVID-19 cases traced to a known source (cases with an epidemiologic link other than sporadic) will not be collected in the same way moving forward. As a result, we will no longer be reporting on these metrics and have updated the following reports to reflect this change.

  • The Epidemiologic Link visualization in the Pediatric Dashboard has been removed.
  • In the Weekly Data Report, the Epidemiologic Link, Interview and Follow-up sections have been removed as well.

More Oregonians receive COVID-19 booster doses

Oregon continues to move closer to meeting Gov. Kate Brown’s goal, announced Dec. 17, of getting 1 million more people in the state a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of January.

When the challenge began, 949,749 people had received a booster dose. Since then, 415,696 Oregonians have received a booster.

As of today, Oregon needs 584,304 people to get a booster to reach the goal and make our state safer from the Omicron variant. Find a booster here.

COVID-19 hospitalizations

St. Charles on Wednesday reported it had 63 COVID patients; four are in the ICU and three are on ventilators. 

Of those 63 patients, 20 are fully vaccinated.

The number represents those with “active COVID” upon admission and require special isolation or treatment. It does not include patients who are there for other reasons and also happen to test positive for COVID.

**A person is considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19 ≥ two weeks after receipt of the second dose in a 2-dose series (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) or ≥ two weeks after receipt of the single dose of the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine.**

The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 981, which is 60 more than yesterday. There are 142 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is eight more than yesterday.

There are 45 available adult ICU beds out of 648 total (7% availability) and 251 available adult non-ICU beds out of 4,146 (6% availability).

1/20/2022 Available Beds (and Percentage of Staffed Beds Available)

Statewide

Region 1

Region 2

Region 3

Region 5

Region 6

Region 7

Region 9

Adult ICU beds available

45

(7%)

21

(6%)

2

(2%)

7

(8%)

5

(8%)

2

(20%)

7

(17%)

1

(4%)

Adult non-ICU beds available

25

(6%)

38

(2%)

7

(1%)

45

(8%)

35

(8%)

8

(16%)

83

(20%)

35

(29%)

Statewide regions are as follows:

Region 1: Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Multnomah, Tillamook and Washington counties

Region 2: Benton, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Polk and Yamhill counties

Region 3: Coos, Curry, Douglas and Lane counties

Region 5: Jackson and Josephine counties

Region 6: Hood River, Gilliam, Sherman and Wasco counties

Region 7: Crook, Deschutes, Grant, Harney, Jefferson, Klamath, Lake and Wheeler counties

Region 9: Baker, Malheur, Morrow, Umatilla, Union and Wallowa counties

The total number of patients in hospital beds may fluctuate between report times. The numbers do not reflect admissions per day, nor the length of hospital stay. Staffing limitations are not captured in this data and may further limit bed capacity.

Note: Please do not visit an emergency department for COVID-19 testing, unless you require emergency care for your symptoms.

Emergency departments in Oregon are under significant strain. You can find a test here. If you have a medical condition that doesn’t require emergency care, contact your provider. An urgent care center may also help you get the care you need and will save emergency departments from added strain.

More information about hospital capacity can be found here.

Vaccinations in Oregon

Today, OHA reported that 18,244 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry on Jan. 19. Of that total, 1,398 were initial doses, 941 were second doses and 5,509 were third doses and booster doses. The remaining 7,950 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry Jan. 19.

The seven-day running average is now 14,865 doses per day.

Oregon has now administered 3,974,479 doses of Pfizer Comirnaty, 197,799 doses of Pfizer pediatric, 2,616,235 doses of Moderna and 262,498 doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.

As of today, 3,103,690 people have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 2,809,173 people have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series.

These data are preliminary and subject to change.

Updated vaccination data are provided on Oregon’s COVID-19 data dashboards and have been updated today.

 

Redmond School Board tells OHA to halt effort to extend mask, vaccine rules

The Redmond School Board has sent another letter to the Oregon Health Authority asking the body “in the strongest possible terms” to halt efforts to extend the state’s COVID mask and vaccine requirements in schools and return the decision-making to local agencies. 

Health officials want to remove the current expiration date for the state’s mask mandate – Feb. 8th – and make the rule indefinite, not “permanent.”

The OHA could rescind the rule at any time, presumably at some point down the line when COVID cases are back under control.

The agency held a public hearing on Thursday and plans two more on Monday to discuss the mask requirements in schools and vaccination rules for teachers and staff. 

The Redmond board members aren’t alone.

More than 350 people —  ranging from stay-at-home parents, registered nurses, a speech-language pathologist, teachers, business owners and life-long residents, both in rural and urban areas — attended the virtual public hearing and vehemently opposed the rule, according to the Associated Press.

Board members say they have “grave concerns that adopting these rule changes would effectively create de facto discrimination.”

“To mandate masks as a prerequisite to attend school in Oregon openly discriminates against students and families who exercise their right to decline masks (by OHA definition a mask is a “medical grade mask”) and maintain control over what goes onto and into their and their children’s bodies,” the letter said. 

The letter, sent to the OHA to be entered into the public record, was signed by four of the five Redmond School Board members: Shawn Hartfield, Michael Summers, Jill Cummings and Keri Lopez.

Board member Liz Goodrich did not sign the letter. 

▶️ Redmond School Board to consider resolution defying masking orders

The Redmond School Board has been very vocal this year about its opposition to the mask rules and desire to be able to make COVID-related decisions on their own.

In August the board voted 3-2 to approve a resolution calling for local control on K-12 mask and teacher vaccination rules, saying it would seek all avenues, including legal action against the state.

In October the board voted to take the next step in that fight and hired Thenell Law Group, a Portland-based law firm that specializes in insurance-related cases.

But just a week later the board decided against moving forward with any legal action. 

Instead, the board voted unanimously to draft a letter to the Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Education, looking for parameters and guidance on when to retain local control.

“My thought in pursuing legal action was not to create chaos or to be anti, but was to create options to our existing staff members who are on the fence, who had not filled out an exemption or acceptation,” board vice chairman Michael Summers said at the time.

The OHA’s current plan, the board said, “completely ignores the will expressed by the Redmond School Board and retains decision-making authority at the State level. This is the exact opposite of local control over pandemic related safety measures that the Redmond School Board expressed in its resolution 21:163 and in the OSBA Fall Listening Session.”

You can read the full letter below:

Public Comment OAR 333-019-1025, 1015, 1030 RSD Board 1 12 22 FINAL DRAFT (1)

 

 

Europe considers new COVID-19 strategy: Accepting the virus

MADRID (AP) — With one of Europe’s highest vaccination rates and its most pandemic-battered economies, the Spanish government is laying the groundwork for a new different COVID-19 playbook.

The idea is to move from crisis mode to control mode, from pandemic to endemic, approaching the virus in much the same way countries deal with flu or measles.

Similar steps are under consideration in Portugal and the United Kingdom, whose government says that the omicron wave has peaked.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control expects more nations from the European Union to follow.

The shift could mean changes in how new infections are recorded, tolerating contagion while providing extra care for at-risk people and patients with complications.

COCC plans drive-thru graduation ceremony; ‘car-mencement’ set for June 11

Central Oregon Community College will hold its commencement this year as a drive-thru event, “prioritizing student, staff and community health, and building upon the successful precedent of last year’s drive-thru ceremony.”

The ceremony is set for 9 a.m. on Saturday, June 11, at the college’s Bend campus.

“After overwhelmingly positive feedback from students, their families and many staff members — as well as out of an abundance of caution for everyone’s health and safety — COCC is pleased to share that this year’s ceremony will again take place as a drive-thru ‘car-mencement,’” said Alicia Moore, vice president of student affairs.

Graduates will be able to exit their vehicles, in turn, and receive their degree or certificate on stage.

For social distancing and logistical purposes, graduates will be grouped into waves based upon their major, with faculty members asked to join during the times that coincide with their students’ arrival, a format that was well received last year.

“Every faculty’s effort was noticed as we drove from the beginning to the end, cheering and well wishes by all,” one graduate noted on COCC’s Facebook page after the 2021 ceremony. “I soaked it in and felt on top of the world for my accomplishment.”

The drive-thru design offers a chance for families and other supporters of graduates to closely celebrate the moment of each diploma conferral.

“It was such a joy to watch our graduates cross the stage with their children, abuelas, spouses and the many others who helped them achieve their academic goals,” said Dr. Betsy Julian, vice president for instruction. “It was the highlight of last year for me, and for so many of our faculty.”

College officials have coordinated the event to occur only on campus roadways to avoid any congestion on College Way.

Additional information about the ceremony, including the commencement speaker selection, will be announced in the coming months.

“As we’ve learned more than once during COCC’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there can be surprising silver linings to the steps we take to keep our students and employees safe,” expressed Dr. Laurie Chesley, president of COCC. “The drive-thru commencement ceremony is one such silver lining. It may be a less formal day than COCC commencements of years past, but this creative format offers students and their loved ones an intimate, personal opportunity to celebrate their graduation.”