The Perfect Enemy | Benton County now in COVID red zone | Govt-and-politics |
August 10, 2022

Benton County now in COVID red zone | Govt-and-politics |

Benton County now in COVID red zone | Govt-and-politics |  Corvallis Gazette-TimesView Full Coverage on Google News

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Grab your masks. Benton County reached the highest community level for COVID-19 spread as of last Thursday, a public health official said Tuesday, July 19.

Omicron subvariant BA.5 is proving more evasive to existing immunity and more transmissible than anything seen with omicron previously, April Holland, Public Health deputy director, told the Board of Commissioners at its most recent meeting.

“We’re seeing a new surge — or perhaps it’s better to say a wave within a wave — of cases and increased hospitalizations as a result,” she said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention categorize communities as low, medium or high level of COVID-19 based on metrics regarding the rate of new cases, hospitalizations and staffed beds occupied by COVID-19 patients in a weekly period. 

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Benton County is listed by the CDC at more than 300 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population, which already puts it at the medium or high community level, Holland said. The county’s weekly new admissions rate triggered the high-level status, reaching 10.8%, she said, adding staffed beds for COVID-19 patients is at 8.7%.

“Either the new COVID-19 admissions or the percentage of staffed in-patient beds for folks with COVID-19 being 10% or higher would put us into that high category as long as we have more than 200 cases or more per 100,000 population,” Holland said.

Statewide hospitalizations are rising modestly, according to Holland, who said locally hospitals are “faring OK” with the increase. She said short staffing driven by coronavirus is the primary challenge locally and across the state.

The county’s small but busy communicable disease team has been working on several complex outbreaks at residential treatment facilities, long-term care, and among other vulnerable community members, Holland said.

Avoiding infection individually helps reduce the community burden, Holland said, suggesting people stay updated on vaccines, look for places with good airflow, stay home when sick and consider rapid testing before gatherings and travel or when feeling unwell. She noted free home tests are available at numerous locations.

The county website lists vaccination opportunities at retail pharmacies, medical providers and at smaller vaccination clinics around the area.

County public health and the CDC recommend masking in public indoor spaces to reduce risk under the high community COVID-19 level.

Data shows reported cases are declining somewhat but are still at a high plateau, Holland said, noting a “good deal of variation” from week to week. She said while not precise, the information indicates reported cases are heading in the right direction.

“However, we’ll continue to monitor the data as well as to look afield to new developments as they arise,” Holland said. “And I have a feeling that they will.”

Cody Mann covers Benton County and the cities of Corvallis and Philomath. He can be contacted at 541-812-6113 or Follow him on Twitter via @News_Mann_.

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