Lane County COVID-19 update, Dec. 21: Gov. Kate Brown extends emergency order though June

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Lane County reported one death and 73 confirmed or presumptive cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, raising the countywide death toll to 349 and case count to 31,317.

There were 307 people considered infectious, a slight decrease from Monday's 310.

Twenty-four Lane County residents were hospitalized Tuesday, up one from Tuesday; with five in intensive care, down one from Monday; and one on a ventilator, unchanged from Monday.

Of the 24 county residents hospitalized Friday, 79.2%, or 19, were unvaccinated, Lane County Public Health reported.

As of Dec. 20, 266,928 people in Lane County, 69.99% of the total population, had received first or second vaccine doses with 587,977 first and second doses administered in Lane County, according to the Oregon Health Authority.

Gov. Kate Brown extends COVID-19 emergency declaration

Gov. Kate Brown has extended her declaration of a state of emergency Tuesday as Oregon prepares for a surge of COVID-19 cases caused by the omicron variant.

“As Oregon prepares for what could be our worst surge in hospitalizations during this pandemic, I know that this is not the beginning of the new year any of us had hoped for,” Brown said in a news release. “Please, do your part again – get vaccinated, get your booster shot, and wear a mask.”

The emergency declaration allows for actions such as the use of volunteer medical providers in hospitals, providing flexibility around professional health licensing, and ensuring Oregon can access federal disaster relief funds.

The emergency declaration will remain in place until June 30, 2022.

Most of the Governor’s other executive orders regarding COVID-19 were rescinded on June 30, 2021.

— Salem Statesman Journal

Lane County Public Health confirms first case of omicron detected

The first lab-confirmed local case of the COVID-19 omicron variant has been found, Lane County Public Health announced Monday.

After a contact investigation, LCPH believes this resident contracted omicron — which is designated as SARS-CoV-2, B.1.1.529 — while traveling and it was not the result of community spread in Lane County. The sample was sequenced and identified by the University of Oregon Genomics & Cell Characterization Core Facility.

“The confirmation of Omicron in Lane County reminds of us several important truths,” Senior Public Health Officer Dr. Patrick Luedtke said in a news release. “We don’t live in a bubble, travel increases our odds of variants circulating, and that we have the tools to prevent the impact of Omicron.”

Read more here.

— The Register-Guard

Intel tells unvaccinated employees they face unpaid leave

PORTLAND — Intel has told workers that unvaccinated people who don't get an exemption for religious or medical reasons will be on unpaid leave beginning in April.

The California-based semiconductor company told employees last month they had a Jan. 4 deadline to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or seek an exemption, citing a government mandate for federal contractors.

The constitutionality of broad government mandates is up in the air. A federal court in Georgia blocked the contractor mandate earlier this month, but the government is appealing.

Intel is for now leaving its policies in place, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

"We are closely monitoring the legal environment and expect it will take time for the case in Georgia, as well as other similar cases, to be fully resolved," Intel said in a statement.

In a Dec. 7 memo to employees, Chief People Officer Christy Pambianchi told employees the Jan. 4 vaccine deadline remains in place.

She wrote that employees who aren't vaccinated must seek a medical or religious accommodation and submit to weekly testing, regardless of whether they are still working remotely.

Intel will review employees' exemption requests until March 15. Pambianchi said employees who don't receive an exemption will begin unpaid leave on April 4 for at least three months but "will not be terminated."

She said Intel will continue providing health care benefits to unvaccinated employees on leave.

— The Associated Press

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This article originally appeared on Register-Guard: Lane County COVID-19 update, Dec. 21: Brown extends emergency order

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