September 1, 2022

With Omicron boosters expected to be widely available after Labor Day, public health leaders are urging eligible groups to get the latest vaccines to reduce their risk of serious illness. I’m here.

Department of Health officials briefed Multnomah County Commissioners on the latest COVID-19 trends on Tuesday, August 30, just as students were beginning to return to classrooms. The transition to fall also marks the beginning of the traditional respiratory illness season in the United States.

The Omicron variant has changed the way health officials respond to COVID-19. Due to the high prevalence and underreporting of cases, the county does not consider the percentage of reported positive cases to be a reliable indicator. Instead, public health officials rely on hospital data to track disease activity. And they note that the number of both intensive care unit admissions and patients on ventilators has leveled off significantly.

“At the population level, we see fewer people needing intensive care compared to the number of people meeting the definition of hospitalization due to COVID,” said County Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Bynes. says.

Shantel Reade, deputy director of public health at the Department of Health, said the county’s strategy reflected the new phase of the pandemic. It has lessons and strategies that live with the virus, move away from the broader emergency response, and apply during other pandemics. and seizure.

“The reality is we have to transition to living with COVID in our communities,” Reed said. .”

Who is dying from COVID-19?

Hospitalization data show that waves occurred roughly two months apart, Vines said.The risk of death increases exponentially with age, with the highest rates occurring in older men. increase.

The high mortality rate among older men is another reason to improve the underlying health of communities through reductions in physical activity, nutrition, and drug and alcohol use, Vines added.

Death rates from COVID-19 remain relatively low across Omicron, but the highest death rates are among those who have not been vaccinated. Health officials are urging people to stay up to date on boosters to reduce the risk of serious illness.

Omicron-tailored boosters will be available to everyone ages 12 and up after Labor Day. Vaccines are expected to become widely available throughout the healthcare system.

“The key is getting vaccinated and getting boosters,” Vines said.

Heading into the fall, the county’s public health strategy is built around four goals. to send children to school. Continue to respond to outbreaks in high-risk settings. And it continues to rely on local epidemiology to inform decision-making.

commissioner Sharon Maylan We asked about mortality among BIPOC residents.

Bynes said reliable racial and ethnic data on COVID-19 cases is limited because Oregon stopped conducting intensive case investigations in 2021.

“It’s going to be imperfect, but we know it’s interesting, and there will be more analysis from our[epidemiology]team on this issue,” Vines said.

keep kids safe at school

As students return to classrooms, back-to-school safety is one of the county’s top priorities. Promoting vaccination and masking among students is part of a strategy to stabilize cases.

The state threshold for an outbreak is 30% absenteeism, or confirmed COVID-19 cases among a cohort (such as an entire kindergarten classroom) plus children on the go. will trigger a notification to This may include masking guidance, information on testing, and mitigations.

commissioner Lori Stegman Asked whether schools require students to wear masks or be vaccinated.

In response, Reed indicated that universal masking will not be imposed. Rather, it occurs on a case-by-case basis by school.

If infected with COVID-19, school personnel must self-quarantine at home for at least 5 days and may only return to school after 5 days if they have been fever free for 24 hours. There are currently no quarantine requirements for children or adults who have been in contact with someone with COVID-19.

Communicable Disease Services has a dedicated outbreak team with full-time school and child care liaisons and pediatric disease specialists. The team meets regularly with schools to provide guidance on disease prevention and mitigation.

commissioner Susheela Jayapal I asked students if they would need masks in the future.

“If there’s a new variant that’s more serious, or somehow more serious for kids, it’s a game changer,” Toevs said.



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