While the upward trajectory of COVID-19 cases appears to have plateaued for the time being, case numbers are still far higher in the county than public health officials would like to see, said Jason Davis, spokesperson for Lane County Public Health, at Tuesday’s press conference.
The county on Tuesday reported 40 new cases in 24 hours. In the past week, three new cases have been confirmed in Creswell; six in Cottage Grove; 84 in Springfield; and six in Pleasant Hill.
Cases are mainly still being attributed to small gatherings and workplace outbreaks. In recent days, coming off the heels of a religious holiday weekend, more cases are being associated with religious facilities and gatherings, Davis said, and cases are also mounting at schools.
Among those cases is a Creswell High School varsity football player, superintendent Mike Johnson said in a release Monday. “We also had a few teachers who were unvaccinated in those numbers, as well as their exposure to kids,” Davis said. Johnson said that the opposing team at the April 9 contest has been notified and that any additional students or families that need to be notified will be contacted by LCPH.
The county had “20 kindergarten through 12th-grade students represented in our case counts across virtually every district,” on Monday, Davis said. “A pretty significant increase in those K through 12 cases ... something I think that we expected to see when we returned in-person classes, but definitely something that we want to be aware of and take appropriate action.”
There have also been new outbreaks in long-term facilities; most cases are primarily among the unvaccinated staff members, officials said.
A pause on J&J vaccine
“Out of an abundance of caution,” Oregon Health Authority on Tuesday paused administration of the J&J single-dose vaccine after six women nationwide ages 18-48 developed a rare and severe blood clot. None of the reported cases were in Oregon.
“It’s important to contextualize this so we have six instances, out of millions of people vaccinated. It’s literally a one-in-a-million chance that you would develop these symptoms,” Davis said.
What was once a disappointment to health officials is now a silver lining, as J&J vaccine allocations have been scarce in the state.
As of April 12, slightly more than 85,000 J&J vaccine doses have been administered in Oregon and 213,300 doses have been delivered to vaccine sites statewide. About 4,000 doses have been administered in Lane County.
The J&J vaccine has been delivered to pharmacies, outpatient clinics, federally qualified health centers, local public health authorities and health systems. J&J has been used strategically, particularly in rural areas and in places where it is difficult to get a second shot.
“We have been administering Johnson & Johnson where it’s requested and where it’s most useful. The Cottage Grove clinic (Monday) was part of that effort,” where about 447 people were vaccinated, Davis said.
Public Health will reach out directly to those who received the J&J shot, and ask that people look out for symptoms in terms of recall ability, severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination.
Davis said health officials are most concerned that the J&J recall will fuel vaccine hesitancy.
“We really have such a small percentage represented here, and yet look at the response … I think it also speaks more to transparency; when it comes to life-threatening side effects, we’re going to alert you about them,” Davis said. “This is just an example of that, where you see an entire nation acting in unison to address a health concern, even though that health concern is statistically a very small percentage of the population.”
The vaccination goal to rid “community immunity” from the virus is 75% of all adults. By presstime Tuesday, the Lane County adult population is 27.17% fully vaccinated, and 55,264 people are awaiting their second dose.
The next round of eligibility is Friday, April 19 for adults 16 and older.