By Starla Pointer and Nicole Montesano • Of the News-Register • 

COVID deaths up in Oregon last week

Deaths from COVID-19 increased last week in Oregon, as new cases and hospitalizations continued to decrease. At the same time, sewage sampling showed an increase in COVID-19 in the United States, and CDC data showed that one in three child deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. were caused by the Omicron variant.

Yamhill County reported three deaths this week:

- A 101-year-old man tested positive Feb. 20 and died March 6 at his residence.

- A 67-year-old woman tested positive Jan. 31 and died March 1 at her residence.

- A 90-year-old man tested positive Jan. 25 and died March 1 at his residence.

CDC data shows that 550 children in the U.S. have died of COVID-19 since the beginning of January, compared to 1,017 in the previous 22 months. Five children have died in Oregon over the course of the pandemic, along with a 19-year-old.

Children also saw record-high hospitalizations from Omicron, and a new report from the CDC this week showed that hospitalizations of infants and toddlers were five times higher during the Omicron wave than the Delta wave, and that 63% of children hospitalized did not have underlying conditions. Infants younger than 6 months were hospitalized at six times the rate they were during the Delta wave. Like adults, children are susceptible to developing Long COVID.

“Strategies to prevent COVID-19 among infants and young children are important and include vaccination among currently eligible populations such as pregnant women, family members, and caregivers of infants and young children,” the report said.

In McMinnville, student representatives from the high school talked to the school board Monday night, about the impacts of dropping the district’s mask mandate.

Student body officers Pamela Garcia and Opal Primozich said many students continued to cover their faces on Monday, the first day masks had been optional in school since the pandemic started.

“Some people took a feel, lowering their masks for a minute then putting them back on,” Garcia said.

Primozich added, “It was quite weird today.”

More students kept their masks on than not, she said. Yet she said she “sensed some polarization” between the masked and the maskless.

“I’m worried about more divisiveness,” she said. She said she plans to continue wearing her mask.

School and district officials have been preparing for the switch to optional masks, which the state allowed as of March 12. They said they will be keeping an eye out for potential teasing or maltreatment of those who continue to choose to wear masks.

This was the first week students have been able to go without masks in school since Oregon schools shut down March 13, 2020, as the pandemic spread.

Originally, the closure was expected to last two weeks, but stretched on through the rest of the school year. Students studied remotely that spring and into the fall. Small groups began returning part time in early 2021 with masks, social distancing and plenty of handwashing.

In fall 2021, schools reopened full-time, but students and staff were required to wear masks at all times in addition to other safety measures. Masks also were required on buses.

The Oregon Health Authority has now dropped mask requirements except in healthcare settings, but recommends that people who are at high risk from COVID-19, or who live with someone high risk, continue to wear masks, particularly indoors. A federal mandate also requires masks on public transportation until April 18; that includes Yamco Transit buses.

A new variant, BA.2, reported to be significantly more transmissible than Omicron, is now spreading rapidly in several countries. The CDC estimates that BA.2 now comprises 23% of new cases in the U.S., and 38% in some parts of the Northeast.

In Oregon, the Oregon Health Authority reported 355 new cases on Wednesday. The OHA’s weekly report showed new cases and new hospitalizations decreased significantly last week, but deaths increased. Reported tests also declined by 17%, and the test positivity rate fell to 3.3%.

In a media forum by Oregon State University last week, Associate Professor Christopher Nichols told reporters that the 1918 flu pandemic saw similar challenges to the current one, with some individuals and businesses pushing back hard against mask mandates. In some places, he said, local leaders responded by dropping the mandates, only to see another, and far worse, resurgence of the disease.

“Historically, the wider public is quite confused when they see different counties and businesses having different requirements that are not linked to clear public health data,” Nichols said. He said he would advise leaders to stop changing public requirements in an effort to be responsive to short-lived trends, but rather to maintain clear, consistent guidelines.

Associate Professor Kathleen Bogart said the changing guidelines have made things particularly difficult for people with disabilities, who can be at significantly higher risk from COVID-19. Changing guidelines, she said, make it much harder for high-risk people to make decisions about attending school or work, or carrying out other daily activities.



Newsregister, with journalists Porter & Montesano continue to perpetuate rona hysteria, anxiety, & fear mongering. This papers continues to become more and more liberal as the months & years go on; the bias and one-sided reporting is embarrassing.


I have one student in middle school and one in high school. The middle school student has decided to continue to wear her mask and the high schooler has decided against it. Both of them told me they have not seen any or experienced any heckling either way.


Apparently, proofreading is a lost art. “Since March 2000 …”


Yes, since March 2020, when schools were forced to shut down at the height of the first big wave. No proofreading error there. That's correct.

Bill B

@sbagwell; please explain

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