By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

County gives up contact tracing

Yamhill County has given up on contact tracing for people with COVID-19, after more than 10,000 new cases were reported in the state on Friday, and new cases in the state increased more than 300%. The county reported 209 new cases on Friday and 253 on Monday. It said it no longer has enough staff to keep up with contact tracing. Instead, the county is posting guidance on its website, at hhs.co.yamhill.or.us/publichealth/page/covid-19-coronavirus-information.

Last week, Health and Human Services Director Lindsey Manfrin told the county board of commissioners her agency was only reaching about half of all county residents diagnosed with COVID-19.

On Saturday, a new drive-through mass vaccination clinic is opening at Spirit Mountain Casino on Highway 18. It will be open from noon to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. No appointments are required, and all COVID-19 vaccines will be offered.

The massive surge in new cases, which has already dwarfed the previous increase caused by the Delta variant, is threatening to overwhelm hospitals.

On Friday, the Oregon Health Authority issued guidelines for how hospitals should prioritize care, if they don’t have the ability to care for all patients. However, hospitals that have their own set of criteria in place may continue to use those.

The OHA said it will continue to work on refining the guidelines.

“This interim tool remains imperfect and inadequately addresses health inequity, even as it better incorporates Oregon’s non-discrimination, health equity principles into difficult triage decisions,” the guidelines state.

“Barriers in the health system for communities of color, tribal communities and people with disabilities, along with the disproportionate experience of underlying or chronic health conditions, are linked to critical inequities in access to needed and unbiased health care, safe and supportive housing, adequate food and nutrition, and more. The work ahead of the Oregon Resource Allocation Advisory Committee must give specific attention to how we improve on the equitable allocation of scarce resources, while acknowledging the foundational inequities that begin before the process of triage and prioritization at the time of a crisis.”

Yamhill County reported one new death on Friday and one on Monday. An 88-year-old man tested positive Dec. 28 and died Dec. 30 at his residence. Details of the death reported Monday had not been released by press time.

There have now been 165 deaths in the county, and 11,393 cases of COVID-19. In Oregon, there have been 459,700 and 5,761 deaths. The rate of positive tests is 21.5%. However, because home rapid tests are not reported to the state, health officials believe the numbers are being undercounted.

Note: This article has been updated to correct the date the new Grand Ronde mass vaccination clinic opens. It is Jan. 15.

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