By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

County health director: If you have symptoms, assume COVID

COVID-19 is surging in Yamhill County, dwarfing the highest numbers seen during last summer’s Delta variant surge, County Health and Human Services Director Lindsey Manfrin told a group of elected officials this week, and it is forcing the county to change some of its practices and recommendations.

The county increased by 1,309 new cases from Thursday, Jan. 6 to Thursday, Jan. 13. To date, there have been 12,240 cases and 168 deaths reported in the county. Manfrin said on Tuesday that the county saw more than 700 cases last week; its previous weekly record, she said, was “around 435, last summer.”

“Anyone who’s tried to get a test lately knows the testing capacity is quite limited. It’s not going to get better over the next couple weeks,” Manfrin warned.

“It really is my recommendation that individuals who are having COVID symptoms assume they have COVID. … and do that five- day isolation period and watch your symptoms.”

Consequently, she said, employers will need to rethink how they manage leave for workers sick with COVID-19, as well.

“We’re going to live in this space for a couple of weeks … you’re going to have staff who are going to be sick or exposed, and they’re not going to have a letter from Public Health; they’re going to have a call from a neighbor they had dinner with,” Manfrin said. “If you have employees who can’t get tested, my recommendation is to assume it’s COVID.”

The county has stopped investigating COVID-19 cases and doing contact tracing, and is now simply advising people who become sick to notify those they had contact with, and follow CDC guidelines for isolating.

Manfrin highlighted that, in addition to remaining isolated for five days, people who are sick “need to be fever-free for at least 24 hours and other symptoms like cough need to be improving. They don’t need to be gone but they do need to be improving.” If people resume outside contact after five days, she said, “they need be masking using a well-fitted mask that’s going to keep the folks around them safe.”

The county announced this week that it is discontinuing offering rapid tests at its twice weekly drive-through testing clinic at the Yamhill County Fairgrounds, because of “extreme demand, continued lack of availability and limited resources.”

However, the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde are offering testing at Spirit Mountain Casino off Highway 18. The county said that clinic will also offer only PCR tests, which take a few days to return results. The testing clinic will be open from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily, beginning Saturday, Jan. 15. The tests are free, and no appointments are necessary.

The tribes will also host a mass vaccination clinic from noon to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Vaccines are free and no appointments are necessary.

The county reported 253 new cases on Monday, 441 new cases on Tuesday, reflecting high case counts over the weekend. On Wednesday, it reported 153 new cases, and on Thursday, 253 new cases.

It has reported four deaths as of Thursday; one was a belated notice from last June.

The Oregon Health Authority reported 8,760 new cases on Wednesday, and 31 deaths.

The OHA’s weekly report “showed a record-smashing total of daily cases, surging hospitalizations, a sharp rise in deaths and a staggering percent positivity” for Jan. 3 to 9, the agency reported.

It said the 47,272 new cases were “six times higher than two weeks ago and three times higher than the previous pandemic record for weekly cases.”

The OHA reported “There were 486 new COVID-19-related hospitalizations, compared to 290 last week – a 68% increase. There were 113 reported COVID-19-related deaths, up from 89 last week.

Reported test results jumped by 89% from 136,474 to 258,574. This represents a new pandemic high. The percentage of positive tests increased from 15.7% to 21%.”

Manfrin also addressed the question of masks, noting that the Omicron variant believed to be responsible for the surge “is incredibly contagious; far more contagious than any of the others.” Responding to a question by County Commissioner Casey Kulla, Manfrin acknowledged that there are increasing calls for people to wear more protective masks.

“With very few exceptions, a mask is better than no mask,” she said, but added, “I was in the grocery store the other day and someone had a crocheted mask. That is not helpful.” However, Manfrin said, “I would say if you are able to wear a KN95 mask, I would do that … a KN95 is going to be more protective than a surgical mask or a cloth mask.”

She said the county is “going to be working on getting some of those masks and getting them out to the community.”

The following deaths were reported for the county as of Wednesday this week.

A 64-year-old man from Yamhill County tested positive Nov. 11 and died Nov. 11 at his residence.

A 58-year-old woman died June 10 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.

Details on the third and fourth deaths reported have not yet been released by the state.


Web Design and Web Development by Buildable