Lindsey Manfrin: COVID-19: Where we've been, where we're going, and why


For most of us, February marks the month we all became significantly aware of this new circulating virus. We watched in awe what was happening in other countries, and soon started hearing and reading about cases closer to home.

Guest Writer

Lindsey Manfrin serves as director of health and human services and public health administrator for Yamhill County. She holds a master’s of nursing in health systems and organizational leadership and a doctorate in nursing practice from Oregon Health and Science University. She is involved in many aspects of state and local work focused on the social determinants affecting health, health systems improvement and community health. She has made her home in Yamhill County since childhood and is currently raising her family here.

In Yamhill County, our first case came on Saturday, March 14. On March 23, Gov. Kate Brown put a Stay Home, Save Lives order in place, and our lives changed dramatically and abruptly.

Yamhill County Public Health quickly implemented plans prepared in advance and mounted a response the likes of which we had never seen before.

The number of local cases held steady for several months, but toward mid-July, we experienced a surge prompting a need for additional Public Health staff. And several exhausting weeks followed for the crew.

We began to find some relief in late August and early September, but it was short-lived. By mid-September, we began to see another increase.

Now, in addition to the increased COVID-19 case numbers, we are seeing a rise in sporadic spread of the illness. Sporadic spread is what we call cases that cannot be traced to a known exposure or source.

This is concerning, as it is an indicator that community spread, versus spread through a known outbreak or large social gathering, is happening more regularly.

The increase in cases due to sporadic spread has become incredibly concerning as we all get ready to move indoors, due to the rain and cold of the changing seasons. Now is the time for all of us to be extra cautious so that moving from outside to inside doesn't produce a disastrous spike in case numbers and hospitalizations.

Another contributing factor occurs when information shared with Public Health during the investigative process is inaccurate or insufficient.

Providing full, accurate and honest information to Public Health staff conducting case investigation and contact tracing is critical to containing this illness. It's the only way we're going to keep people safe, especially among our community’s vulnerable populations.

Providing accurate information to Public Health allows us to contact others who have been exposed and prevent an exposed person from passing the virus along. Preventing a visit of someone who has been exposed to an elderly person or person with health complications could save a life.

While the Yamhill County caseload is rising, and we are seeing more sporadic spread, Public Health remains vigilant and dedicated. Our team provides on-site testing for organizations experiencing outbreaks, works with community partners to sponsor community testing clinics, provides technical assistance to local businesses, and does everything it possibly can to notify people who may have been exposed.  

Over the course of the pandemic, we have experienced a gradual easing in many aspects of our lives, but with the need to observe continued restrictions and COVID-specific protocols.

We have experienced many changes in the recommendations we are offering the general community. These changes have been frustrating to many, and have left some questioning the validity of public health science.

So, why all the changes to things like face-covering recommendations and requirements? The answer is, Public Health has never experienced a pandemic like this in our lifetimes, so we are learning as we go along.

We have plans in place for pandemic flu, bioterror anthrax attacks, massive earthquakes and other potential public health catastrophes, including plans for establishing alternative care sites for swamped hospitals. But this virus new to us, so we had a lot of unknowns to dea with.

Study of the virus is ongoing, and recommendations evolve as more is learned. One of the things that changed as we learned more about COVID-19 was our recommendation on face coverings.

I encourage people to be reassured rather than frustrated with this process. Take comfort in the fact that Public Health officials and medical experts are not being complacent.

They are watching and learning in real time about everything related to this virus. As more is understood, they are better able to help us protect ourselves and those around us.

We have all had to make tremendous sacrifices to restrain COVID-19 spread and keep our community safe. That's especially true for vulnerable populations.

The cost to our local economy has been devastating. Many people are feeling exhausted, anxious, and angry.

At the end of the day, we all want life to go back to normal. Will that ever happen? Will we ever be able to get back to a life without masks or fear, and with in-person school?

Yes, we will. But when that will happen is a more complicated question.

We will have a vaccine for this virus, but there are still many unknowns related to timing. If all goes well with vaccine safety, efficacy studies and manufacturing timelines, the earliest we could anticipate vaccine being available for the broader community is likely summer of 2021.

But even when there is a vaccine, it will not abruptly end the pandemic. Instead, we can anticipate only a gradual return to normalcy.

The good news is that while it may feel like everything is out of our control, there are many things within our control that will keep ourselves, our loved ones and the community safe.

We all know the basics at this point: Stay home when sick, practice frequent handwashing, wear a covering over nose and mouth, maintain physical distance and keep social circles small.

Other things you can do on an individual basis include: Take care of your body, get enough sleep and eat nutritious food, all critically important for your immune system. You might also consider checking with your healthcare provider to see if you can safely supplement with immune-boosting vitamins like C and D.

This has been a long, exhausting and winding road. We have been through personal protective equipment shortages, hospital surges, school and business closures and devastating loss of life.

Almost 9 million Americans have caught the virus and more than 225,000 have succumbed to it. Oregon has logged about 42,000 cases and 650 deaths, Yamhill County about 1,000 cases and 15 deaths.

These are moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas. Their deaths have left holes in the hearts of friends and family.

In these times, it's critical that we take care of one another, that we be kind to one another, and that we listen to those who have spent their entire careers studying this type of issue. Determined to save lives, researchers are spending their days and nights researching the most up-to-date information about this virus at a frantic pace.

When this pandemic is over — and we will get to that place — we will, hopefully, be left with is fond memories of those we lost too soon, the knowledge we did all that we could to protect the most vulnerable among us, and a resiliency within our community that comes from fighting a battle such as this.




One thing Ms. Manfrin has failed to mention in her essay is that among those COVID-19 influenced and "reported deaths", a very, very large percentage had underlying conditions that are normally the cause of death by themselves in the elderly. In our rush to quantify, qualify, and apply the COVID-19 label to so many deaths, we have failed to distinguish between what is real and what was cooked up so as to generate the numbers in what is un doubtedly another nefarious scheme, who's endgame remains to be seen, but one thing remains true in that we Americans have been duped into forfeiting many of our Constitutionally gauranteed rights.

No, I do not believe that COVID-19 is a hoax, as it is real and some have even died from it, but we cannot help but consider that the real causes are hidden in those "underlying conditions". Is it possible that in our rush to understand and combat the virus, that we have fallen into the trap of over-exaggerating the true impact that this virus has made?

While that jury is still out I will continue to wear my mask and expect others to do so likewise. And as Ms. Manfrin interjected, "...In these times, it's critical that we take care of one another, that we be kind to one another, and that we listen..." no matter how we qualify it.


C’mon Hibb....
You’re implying that doctors across the country ( and the world) are all in cahoots to inflate the Covid mortality counts?
That’s a conspiracy that I find a bit hard to swallow....There no facts that the show Covid death numbers (233,000 plus) are part of a “ nefarious scheme”....
The real nefarious scheme is the Administration’s feeble public health response that has done little to mitigate the damage done by the virus or protect US citizens.

Amity fan

Note to County Commissioners(and Commissioner elect), please stay out of Lindsey's way and let her do her job. Lindsey Manfrin is an amazing public servant. We are very lucky to have someone of her caliber here in Yamhill County directing H&HS services. I appreciate what she's done, what she continues to do, and her dedication to serving us. Thank you Lindsey!


tagup: I felt the same way until I did some research and found doctors that were complaining that their COD findings were being largely ignored and in some cases fraudulently altered by health authorities. It sounds outrageous, I know, but the cards fall where they will and from what I have been able to ascertain this is not a single incident, but a practice put into play since COVID-19 launched.