Benton County now in COVID red zone | government and politics

Grab your masks. Benton County reached its highest county level for the spread of COVID-19 last Thursday, a public health official said Tuesday, July 19.

Omicron subvariant BA.5 is proving to be more evasive of existing immunity and transmissible than anything previously observed in Omicron, April Holland, deputy director of public health, told the Board of Commissioners at its recent meeting.

“We’re seeing a new spike — or rather, a wave within a wave — of cases and, as a result, an increase in hospital admissions,” she said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention categorizes communities as having low, moderate, or high levels of COVID-19 based on metrics related to the rate of new cases, hospitalizations, and occupied beds occupied by COVID-19 patients in a weekly period .

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Benton County is listed by the CDC with more than 300 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people, already putting it at the middle or high community level, Holland said. The county’s weekly admission rate triggered high-level status, hitting 10.8%, she said, and adding staffed beds for COVID-19 patients sits at 8.7%.

“Either the new COVID-19 admissions or the percentage of occupied inpatient beds for people with COVID-19 of 10% or more would place us in this high category as long as we have more than 200 cases or more per 100,000 population. ‘ Holland said.

Nationwide hospitalizations are rising slightly, according to Holland, who said local hospitals are “doing fine” with the increase. She said the staffing shortage caused by the coronavirus is the biggest challenge locally and across the state.

The county’s small but hardworking communicable disease team has been working on multiple complex outbreaks at inpatient treatment facilities, in long-term care and among other vulnerable community members, Holland said.

Avoiding infection individually helps reduce the community burden, Holland said, suggesting keeping people updated on vaccines, looking for places with good airflow, staying home when sick and staying away from gatherings and Travel or consider rapid testing if unwell. She noted that free home tests are available in numerous places.

The county website lists vaccination options at retail pharmacies, medical providers, and smaller vaccination clinics in the area.

The county public health department and CDC recommend masking in indoor public spaces to reduce risk amid high levels of COVID-19 in the community.

Data shows reported cases are declining somewhat but are still on a high plateau, Holland said, noting “a lot of fluctuation” from week to week. She said while the information isn’t accurate, the reported cases suggest they’re going in the right direction.

“However, we will continue to monitor the data and be alert to new developments as they emerge,” Holland said. “And I have a feeling they will.”

Cody Mann covers Benton County and the cities of Corvallis and Philomath. He can be contacted at 541-812-6113 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @News_Mann_.

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