Public Health: Lane County COVID cases surpassing delta surge, consider masking indoors

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Lane County Public Health reported that there had been 1,147 new cases last week. The new case numbers are surpassing the delta surge and approaching the first omicron surge, according to Jason Davis, Lane County Public Health spokesperson.

"Now is the time for folks to start masking indoors and consider that case spread to be at a very high level in our community," Davis said in an interview with The Register-Guard. "Especially if you're unvaccinated or if you yourself are immunocompromised or you have immunocompromised people at home."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID community levels, a measure of the impact of COVID-19 on healthcare systems across the nation, lists Lane County as "medium." However, Davis said that the risk of contracting COVID-19 in the community right now is "very high."

While Davis said now is the time to begin wearing masks indoors again, Lane County Public Health is waiting one full incubation period before officially issuing a general recommendation. This will not be a mandate.

Some of the highest numbers of new COVID-19 cases since the pandemic started more than two years ago are being reported statewide. The Oregon Health Authority reported nearly 12,000 new cases last week and the state is averaging 1,685 new cases a day. That's higher than all but 12 weeks since the start of the pandemic in 2020. Hospitalizations continue to lag behind the rising case numbers and remain far below previous pandemic highs.

As of Monday, 278 people were hospitalized — up 11% from a week before — and those tallies are expected to peak at 330 occupied hospital beds on June 9.

At a news conference last week, state health officer and epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger said the state should make it through this wave, which is expected to peak in two weeks, without reimposing mandates such as mask wearing or distancing.

The peak was predicted to be less than a third of what the state saw in January, Dr. Paul Cieslak, one of OHA's senior health advisers, said in an interview with The Register-Guard.

About a third of Americans now live in an area with medium or high COVID-19 rates, with reported cases up 26% from last week, said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control an Prevention.

On average, about 3,000 Americans are being hospitalized per day and 275 are dying. Walensky urged people in communities with higher infection and hospitalization rates to protect themselves by masking in indoor public places and to get a booster shot if vaccinated and to get vaccinated if they're not.

Earlier this month, Multnomah County Public Health issued a recommendation that residents resume masking indoors until case counts and hospitalizations go back down.

While a court order ended the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's mask requirements on public transportation last month, the CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings.

The Associated Press and USA Today contributed to this report.

Contact reporter Tatiana Parafiniuk-Talesnick at Tatiana@registerguard.com or 541-521-7512, and follow her on Twitter @TatianaSophiaPT.

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This article originally appeared on Register-Guard: Public Health: Lane County COVID cases surpassing delta surge