Brown: All Oregonians will be eligible for COVID vaccination by July 1

By TED TAYLOR
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

Oregonians 45 and older with pre-existing conditions will be eligible for the COVID vaccine by March 29th, according to new plans Gov. Kate Brown announced on Friday.

The general public – anyone 16 and over – will be eligible for the vaccine by July 1st.

“Come summer, provided supplies from the federal government continue as planned, any Oregonian who wants the vaccine will be eligible to receive it,” Brown said. “While that gives us all a reason to breathe a sigh of relief — it should also serve as a reminder that the finish line is in sight and we cannot let up. New variants of this virus still threaten our communities. While infection rates continue to plummet both here in Oregon and across the country, we’re not out of the woods just yet.”

The OHA reports the state has now administered 881,206 first and second doses of COVID vaccines; 1,170,595 doses of vaccine have been delivered to sites across Oregon.

Oregon will continue to vaccinate Oregon seniors, educators, adults in custody, and anyone else eligible in Phase 1a until March 29th.

The continuation of Phase 1b will proceed in two waves:

Beginning March 29, the following groups of Oregonians will be eligible for vaccination:

  • Adults age 45 to 64 with underlying health conditions as defined by the CDC
  • Seasonally-impacted frontline workers, such as migrant seasonal farm workers, seafood and agricultural workers, and food processing workers
  • Currently displaced victims of the September 2020 wildfires
  • Wildland firefighters
  • People living in low-income and congregate senior housing
  • Individuals experiencing houselessness

No later than May 1, the following groups of Oregonians will be eligible:

  • All other frontline workers as defined by the CDC
  • Individuals age 16-45 with underlying health conditions
  • Multigenerational household members

No later than June 1, Phase 2 of vaccination will begin with all adults aged 45 to 64.

Of course, the efforts will rely on vaccination availability.

In recent weeks a limited supply has been trickling into Central Oregon; this week fewer than 3,500 first-doses were available.

Appointments for those vaccines have been filled within hours, leaving many seniors left waiting for additional shipments.

In Central Oregon, nearly 38,000 people have received at least their first dose of the vaccine.

OHA Director Patrick Allen said Friday he expects the state to get “game-changing volumes” of vaccines from the federal government in the coming weeks.

He said the state intends to ramp up vaccination efforts to get to as many people as quickly as possible.

“As more vaccines become available, we can expand vaccine distribution points to more locations where many people are used to getting vaccinated: Retail pharmacy outlets, outpatient clinics and other sites linked to hospitals and health systems to help loosen bottlenecks,” he explained. “

By August or September everyone should have had the chance to at least get the first dose of the vaccine, Allen said.

To date, more than 154,500 Oregonians have contracted COVID and 2,204 have died from the disease.

But cases statewide and hospitalizations have been declining steadily for the last three weeks statewide.

In Deschutes County, cases have gone down each of the last five weeks.

 

 

▶️ While fall sports ramp up, COVID keeps Jefferson Co. volleyball on sidelines

By STEELE HAUGEN
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

If she’s lucky, Culver High junior Lindsey Lamb will get to play just a handful of volleyball games this year.

“I think me and just like the other people here and other players on the team are angry and frustrated with it,” Lamb said of the current situation for athletes at her school. 

High school sports are ramping up across Central Oregon with athletes in traditional fall sports ready to get into the game.

But a mishmash of COVID restrictions tied to a county’s virus transmission level led to some inequities across different sports.

Cross country, soccer, football and volleyball are currently allowed for Deschutes and Crook counties, which this week both moved to the ‘high risk’ level. 

Jefferson County remains at ‘extreme risk’, but Madras and Culver High schools can still play full-contact, full-gear football games.

Volleyball players are still stuck on the sidelines, though, because the sport isn’t allowed in ‘extreme risk’ counties.

“It’s really disappointing that other sports can play but not volleyball,” Lamb said.

If Jefferson County doesn’t move to ‘high risk’ on March 9, there will be no volleyball season.

Lamb’s boyfriend plays football for Culver High.

They have five games scheduled this year.

“I couldn’t really put it together because football is even more of a contact sport,” Lamb added.

Madras High School Athletic Director Mark Stewart says his volleyball players are also disheartened.

“The belief is with indoor sports you can contract COVID more easily and with outdoor sports you can’t,” Stewart said.

Madras and Culver students are back to in-person learning, full-time.

“It’s really hard to explain to the girls and the community how we can be fully in school and all other sports are able to play, but volleyball can’t,” Stewart added.

Students even take part in indoor gym classes.

“We have 23 kids in a PE class right now, but we can’t play volleyball,” Stewart said. “Things just don’t match up with school metrics and county metrics.”

Madras High senior Hannah Holliday was looking forward to this volleyball season.

“I was planning on playing my senior season,” Holliday said, “One last season, but things just didn’t go our way.”

Holliday didn’t want to wait for a season that might never come, so she’s switching to soccer.

“Just ’cause they are able to compete and I really want to compete my senior season,” she said. “I thought if I can’t compete in volleyball, I will go play on another team and compete in soccer.”

March 1 is the competition start date for Oregon high schools.

2 Central Oregonians die from COVID complications; 553 new cases statewide

The Oregon Health Authority reported 10 new COVID-19 related deaths in the state Thursday – including two Central Oregonians – raising the state’s death toll to 2,204.

The report includes the death of a 96-year-old Deschutes County woman who died Feb. 18 in her home and a 63-year-old Jefferson County woman who died at St. Charles on Feb. 5th.

The OHA reported 553 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total to 154,554.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (2), Benton (12), Clackamas (46), Columbia (4), Coos (26), Crook (2), Curry (5), Deschutes (10), Douglas (27), Harney (1), Hood River (2), Jackson (75), Jefferson (9), Josephine (13), Klamath (6), Lane (51), Lincoln (3), Linn (16), Malheur (4), Marion (58), Morrow (3), Multnomah (66), Polk (12), Tillamook (3), Umatilla (17), Union (4), Wasco (1), Washington (61) and Yamhill (14).

Deschutes County has reported 5,918 cases and 59 deaths. There are 1,933 active cases – that’s one in 102 residents; 3,926 patients have recovered.

Crook County has reported 775 cases and 18 deaths.

Jefferson County has reported 1,950 cases and 28 deaths.

Vaccinations in Oregon

Deschutes County: 31,608

Crook County: 2,720

Jefferson County: 3,640

Today, OHA reported that 22,841 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 15,684 doses were administered on Feb. 24 and 7,157 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on Feb. 24.

Cumulative daily totals can take several days to finalize because providers have 72 hours to report doses administered and technical challenges have caused many providers to lag in their reporting.

OHA has been providing technical support to vaccination sites to improve the timeliness of their data entry into the state’s ALERT Immunization Information System (IIS).

Oregon has now administered a cumulative total of 881,206 first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines. To date, 1,170,595 doses of vaccine have been delivered to sites across Oregon.

These data are preliminary and subject to change. OHA’s dashboards provide regularly updated vaccination data, and Oregon’s dashboard has been updated today.

COVID-19 hospitalizations

St. Charles reported Thursday it had 12 COVID patients; one was in the ICU. and on a ventilator.

The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 156, which is six fewer than yesterday. There are 38 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is eight fewer than yesterday.

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.

More information about hospital capacity can be found here.

 

 

▶️ Local agencies promote tourism season with caution; still expect visitors

By MEGHAN GLOVA
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

With tourism season just around the corner, how is Bend being marketed to visitors during a pandemic?

“I think just looking at last summer it was proof that even with the pandemic going on, people still want to get out and get out in wide open spaces,” Mackenzie Ballard, Visit Central Oregon director of marketing said. “And that is something that we offer here.”

This time of year, Visit Central Oregon would typically be promoting travel to our area.

Because we’re still in a pandemic, the tourism agency is taking a different approach by encouraging tourists to simply plan.

“So we’re just trying to keep the destination top of mind for them with that “plan now” message,” Ballard said. “Keep us out there, but really just help them think of the future.”

And yes, other local tourism agencies also anticipate those visitors to come.

“People are going to come to Bend regardless,” Beau Eastes, Old Mill District marketing director said. “I mean we saw that last summer right?”

Even selling local events is tricky, Eastes says the Old Mill is waiting it out.

“Nobody really knows in the event industry what July, August are going to look like,” Eastes said. “You know anything that we publicize, we want to make sure whoever is doing it is doing it in a safe manner as well.”

Eastes says the Old Mill is keeping an eye on state guidance, but because restrictions could change every two weeks, this is the safest plan for now.

“I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all to circle our wagons and make sure we’re doing things right by our community,” Eastes said. “Then when it’s ready to invite others from outside the community in, we’ll be ready to do that.”

OHA reports 32 new COVID deaths; 437 cases statewide

The Oregon Health Authority on Wednesday reported 437 new cases and 32 COVID-related deaths.

Oregon’s death toll has reached 2,194. There have been 154,062 reported cases.

Deschutes County has reported 5,922 total cases and 58 deaths.

The county currently has 1,952 active cases – that’s one in 101 residents; 3,912 patients have recovered.

Crook County has reported 779 cases and 18 deaths.

Jefferson County has reported 1,941 cases and 27 deaths.

Information on case counts and deaths for all Oregon counties, as well as demographic information for all Oregon cases and deaths, can be found on Oregon Health Authority’s COVID-19 Page.

Vaccinations:

Deschutes County: 31,584

Crook County: 2,715

Jefferson County: 3,563

Hospitalizations:

St. Charles reported Wednesday it had 15 COVID patients; two are in the ICU and one is on a ventilator.

 

Another Florence restaurant fined over COVID-19 restrictions

FLORENCE, Ore. (AP) — State officials have fined another Florence restaurant for several violations of guidelines meant to protect employees from COVID-19.

The Register-Guard reports Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Wednesday it had fined Firehouse Restaurant & Lounge over $18,000 for allowing indoor dining, failing to have an infection control plan and not conducting a risk assessment.

The restaurant is closed Wednesdays and didn’t immediately respond to a request from the newspaper for comment.

OSHA officials say they decided to conduct the inspection by phone after “an investigation of social media posts and websites discovered the potential for armed people to block access to the business.”

On Tuesday, OSHA announced a similar fine for The New Blue Hen in Florence.

Officials say complaints led to an inspection which was carried out despite several people – including one carrying a firearm – who blocked the business’ entrance and threatened compliance officers.

The investigation found the restaurant had been allowing indoor dining since at least Dec. 26.

The restaurant didn’t immediately respond to The Register-Guard’s message seeking comment.

The restaurant has 30 days to appeal.

Never too late: Pandemic propels older shoppers online

NEW YORK (AP) — Older people are learning to shop online for the first time during the pandemic.

Spending for people 65 and older shot up 60% last year from a year earlier.

And even though they still spend less than the total population, they are the fastest-growing group of online shoppers by age group.

It’s not easy for many, and children and nursing-home staff often have to help.

Grocery delivery services are trying to cater to them. But there are many barriers. Millions can’t shop online at all, because they don’t have internet or devices.

Those who can struggle with the basics of using an app.

FDA says J&J 1-dose shot prevents COVID; final decision soon

WASHINGTON (AP) — An analysis by U.S. regulators says Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine provides strong protection against severe COVID-19.

The report Wednesday confirmed that overall the vaccine is about 66% effective at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19.

On Friday, a panel of experts to the Food and Drug Administration will debate if the evidence is strong enough to recommend the long-anticipated shot.

The FDA is expected to make a final decision within days.

If the FDA clears the J&J shot for U.S. use, it won’t boost vaccine supplies significantly right away.

Only a few million doses are expected to be ready for shipping in the first week.

▶️ Bend funeral home shares experiences with COVID deaths, restricted funerals

By MEGHAN GLOVA
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

Over half a million Americans have died due to COVID-19.

Some of those deaths affect loved ones at the local level, including at least three families that made arrangements at Niswonger-Reynolds Funeral Home in Bend.

Funeral director apprentice Whitney Moore says this year has been especially difficult for families who lose someone from a long-term care facility.

“I feel like families have been a little bit disgruntled,” Moore said. “They couldn’t get in to spend the last remaining time with their loved ones.”

When it comes to planning a funeral, Moore says clients are understanding and willing to work with capacity limitations.

The funeral home offers to live stream services and can accommodate more guests during outdoor grave-side services.

“I think that it’s been a rough time for everybody and everybody’s kind of gotten tired of having to deal with all the restrictions,” Moore said. “But we haven’t really gotten much push-back.”

Moore says she treats every client the same, no matter how their loved one passed.

She just tries to be mindful of each individual experience.

“There’s some inconveniences that have been added,” Moore said. “But for the most part it’s the least we can do to keep everybody safe.”

OHA reports 8 new COVID deaths; 528 cases statewide

There are eight new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 2,162, the Oregon Health Authority reported Tuesday.

The OHA reported 528 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total to 153,645.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported Tuesday are in the following counties: Baker (5), Benton (17), Clackamas (47), Clatsop (4), Columbia (12), Coos (11), Crook (6), Curry (3), Deschutes (34), Douglas (29), Grant (1), Harney (4), Hood River (2), Jackson (46), Jefferson (9), Josephine (17), Klamath (11), Lane (40), Lincoln (3), Linn (8), Malheur (5), Marion (37), Morrow (4), Multnomah (55), Polk (12), Tillamook (2), Umatilla (20), Union (5), Washington (64) and Yamhill (15).

Deschutes County has reported 5,893 cases and 58 deaths. The county has 1,963 active cases – that’s 1 in 100 residents; 3,872 patients have recovered.

Crook County has reported 771 cases and 18 deaths.

Jefferson County has reported 1,934 cases and 27 deaths.

Vaccinations in Oregon

Deschutes County: 31,367

Crook County: 2,710

Jefferson County: 3,545

Today, OHA reported that 14,917 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 9,235 doses were administered on Feb. 22 and 5,682 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on Feb. 22.

Cumulative daily totals can take several days to finalize because providers have 72 hours to report doses administered and technical challenges have caused many providers to lag in their reporting.

OHA has been providing technical support to vaccination sites to improve the timeliness of their data entry into the state’s ALERT Immunization Information System (IIS).

Oregon has now administered a cumulative total of 836,075 first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines. To date, 1,092,385 doses of vaccine have been delivered to sites across Oregon.

These data are preliminary and subject to change. OHA’s dashboards provide regularly updated vaccination data, and Oregon’s dashboard has been updated today.

COVID-19 hospitalizations

St. Charles on Tuesday reported 17 COVID patients; one is in the ICU and on a ventilator.

The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 165, which is two fewer than yesterday. There are 44 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is three fewer than yesterday.

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.

More information about hospital capacity can be found here.