Lane County schools reopen; ICU beds near full

Alicia Beymer, chief administrative officer at PeaceHealth Cottage Grove and PeaceHealth Sacred Heart, speaks Saturday with Cottage Grove Mayor Jeff Gowing and others in attendance noting the National Guard’s arrival and support.

Covid hospitalizations reached record highs last week before receding slightly, but those numbers remain alarmingly high for hospitals, according to Dr. Dean Sidelinger, state epidemiologist.

An average of 182 cases are reported daily in Lane County, according to data provided by Lane County Public Health. As of Tuesday, of the 892 infected with Covid, 110 people are hospitalized, occupying 25% of the county’s beds. 

“Hospitals have breached their saturation point; our health system is not able to provide care to everyone arriving at their doors,” Sidelinger said.

What’s more is that there are only seven ICU beds available in the county, with 61% of them being occupied by Covid patients. That means fewer beds for anyone who experiences a medical incident like a heart attack or injuries from a car crash.

“It is the crisis we all dreaded,” Sidelinger said, noting that an overwhelming majority of the patients who have COVID-19 filling these beds are unvaccinated.

Of those 110 people hospitalized in Lane County, 90% are unvaccinated. 

“I cannot say this more plainly: This is a crisis that is largely being driven by people who have not yet been vaccinated,” he said.

As in-person learning winds up with new mandates trickling down from state officials, school-age cases in the past two weeks in area districts include 14 cases in Springfield; less than 10 cases in Creswell, including a student from the CHS football team; less than 10 cases in South Lane; and no cases in Pleasant Hill, according to LCPH data. 

Student vaccination rates between ages 12-17 in local districts vary, including 46% of 5,188 students in Springfield; 37% of 676 students in Creswell; 36% of 1,352 students in South Lane; and 32% of 570 students in Pleasant Hill. 

Last month, all teachers, support staff and volunteers in K-12 schools were required to be fully vaccinated. On Tuesday, the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Department of Education issued a list of five health advisories that will remain in effect until Oct. 1. 

These advisories will periodically be issued either regionally or statewide, and will include additional steps people can take to ensure that all students can remain in school, full-time and safely because “the threat of losing school time or moving back to online school is real,” said Colt Gill, director of the ODE. 

The first set of advisories include:

■ Schools reduce extracurricular activities and consider holding activities like meals, recess, gym, music and choir, outdoors to maximize physical distancing. 

■ Schools should hold family events (open houses, meet the teacher nights, etc.) online. If events are held in-person, hold events outside, mask up and maintain distance.

■ Families review their school’s Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and make a plan in the event their child misses school. 

■ All eligible people that are in contact with school-age children should vaccinate.

■ Families with children and educators limit gatherings and non-essential activities. Wear a mask if visiting people from another household, maintain distance and keep activities outdoors. 



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