Lane County issues new COVID-19 guidance


Lane County released updated guidance on Saturday, Aug. 21, in an effort to fight the recent rise in COVID-19 cases.

As well as the usual recommendations to wear masks indoors or when six-foot distances cannot be maintained outdoors, emergency recommendations call on businesses, organizations, and employers to take immediate action to limit ongoing community spread and defend the county’s dwindling hospital capacity.

The Lane County Board of County Commissioners discussed the health advisory on Tuesday, Aug. 24, and voted unanimously to officially take up the weekend’s recommendations. However, commissioners did not go as far as to call for a mandate.

Public health officials described the health landscape to commissioners, reporting that 65 percent of all ICU beds are occupied by COVID patients and that daily case rates were in the triple digits.

Lane County’s guidance came just a day after Gov. Kate Brown took steps to curb the statewide rise of COVID cases by requiring Oregon health care workers and K-12 teachers and educators to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18.

Only medical or religious exemptions apply.

Meanwhile, hundreds of national guardsmen have been deployed to help fill roles as frontline healthcare workers struggle to meet demand.

Oregon is now averaging more than 2,000 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 each day.

As of Aug. 20, more than a quarter-million Oregonians have contracted COVID-19.

In a press conference on Aug. 19, Gov. Brown, State Epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger, OHA Director Patrick Allen and other state officials talked about the state of COVID-19 in Oregon. 

“The grip of the Delta variant is tightening, and without a concerted effort by all Oregonians over the next several weeks to wear masks and get vaccinated, we risk being swamped by the rapidly rising tide of infections in our communities,” Sidelinger said. “Over the past week, daily cases and COVID-19-related hospitalizations have continued an alarming ascent — regularly setting new pandemic highs — far beyond what we experienced in previous surges.”

Lane County reported 1,524 cases and two deaths in its latest week, the case rate up from 1,459 the previous week.

The public is asked to follow the emergency recommendations regardless of vaccination status.

The county’s full list of recommendations are as follows:

• Wear masks in indoor spaces with other individuals outside of your immediate household.

• Wear masks in outdoor spaces when maintaining six feet of distance is not possible from other individuals outside of your immediate household.

• Carry masks and hand sanitizer with you when leaving home and wash your hands as often as possible.

• Avoid crowded public spaces, whether in or outdoors.

• Avoid unnecessary business or leisure travel.

• Respect other’s space and maintain at least 6 feet distance from others.

• Limit activities that could lead to injuries requiring hospital care.

• If you are an unvaccinated adult, stay home and avoid public interactions as much as possible.

• Get vaccinated.

For Businesses

• Ensure indoor masking consistent with previous LCPH advisories and Governor Brown’s masking order.

• Ensure outdoor masking for those older than five years of age (two and older if tolerated) — regardless of vaccination status — when in outdoor public spaces in which six feet of distance cannot be consistently maintained.

• Limit capacity to facilitate social distancing, particularly when customers will be eating and drinking without masks.

• Prominently post appropriate signage to remind customers to observe COVID-19 safe practices.

• Prominently post signage about the vaccination status of your business and staff.

Public Venue Owners, Operators, and Permitting Authorities

While peer-reviewed evidence of outdoor transmission risks associated with the Delta Variant of SARS-CoV-2 is incomplete, Lane County Public Health (LCPH) says it believes that the safest strategy is to avoid public events greater than 200 people indoors and outdoors for at least the next two weeks.

LCPH advises to strongly consider postponing events until a later date when transmission risk is reduced. If this is not possible, LCPH recommends taking the following steps to limit the spread.

• Require indoor and outdoor masking, regardless of vaccination status.

• Consider requiring proof of vaccination for entry.

• Consider capacity limits to facilitate distancing, whether in or out of doors.

• Provide ample sanitation stations for handwashing.

• Consider entrances, exits, and other areas where people tend to cluster — ensure that attendees have room to queue that facilitates spacing. Use signage and staff to remind people to maintain distance and use masking, indoors and outdoors.

• Consider touchless vending options, if possible.

• Prominently post appropriate signage to remind customers to observe COVID-19 safe practices; reinforce via public address announcements throughout the event.

Employers

• Ensure that employees follow public health measures outlined above.

• Encourage remote tele-work for employees for whom this is possible.

• Ensure that workplaces can facilitate distancing where possible.

• Limit unnecessary travel for employees.

To learn more about COVID-19 and vaccination efforts in Oregon, visit healthoregon.org/coronavirus and covidvaccine.oregon.gov, as well as lanecounty.org/coronavirus and lanecounty.org/vaxclinics.

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