KWSO News for Thu., Dec. 3, 2020

Officials say an 11-person COVID-19 outbreak at the Wilsonville office of the Oregon Employment Department will likely cause further delays in the handling of claims. David Gerstenfeld, acting director of the department, says health authorities have not advised the office to close. But Gov. Kate Brown’s COVID-19 safety orders require employers to allow work-from-home options when possible. Gerstenfeld says he expects hundreds of Wilsonville employees to work from home in the future, but some can’t because they lack adequate internet service. The Oregon Health Authority reported 1,244 new confirmed cases Wednesday, bringing the state’s total to 78,160. The death toll is 953.

Starting today new categorizations for counties will be implemented.  At least 21 of Oregon’s 36 counties have been placed in the “extreme risk” category.  Jefferson County is listed as such along with Deschutes, Douglas, Baker, Benton, Clackamas, Columbia, Grant, Jackson,  Klamath, Lane,  Linn, Malheur, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Umatilla, Union, Wasco, Washington and Yamhill.   In addition, six counties — Clatsop, Coos, Crook, Hood River, Josephine and Lake — have been classified as “high risk,” with four others (Curry, Harney, Lincoln and Morrow) determined to be “moderate risk.”  Only five Oregon counties — Gilliam, Sherman, Tillamook, Wallowa and Wheeler — are categorized as “lower risk.”  The Oregon Health Authority will re-examine county case data every two weeks.   A county’s risk category is determined by either the rate or number of newly identified cases within a two-week period or, depending on the county’s size, the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests in that period.  For higher risk locations – there are more restrictions.

Regardless of your location everyone needs to continue to take all the basic recommended precautions to prevent the spread of coronavirus.   Wear a face covering in public and at work.  Maintain 6 feet of social distance from others especially if someone does not have a mask on.  Wash your hands often with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.  It’s especially important to clean your hands before going in or coming out of a store or any building or even your home.  And disinfect frequently touched hard surfaces like door knobs, faucets, counters, bathrooms and light switches.  And because there has been a lot of news about Covid-19 Vaccine rolling out, don’t stop taking those precautions.

Some good news on the Vaccine front in Oregon – Oregon health officials now anticipate receiving at least three times as many initial doses of COVID-19 vaccine as announced just a week ago. The availability will depend on the U-S Food and Drug Administration giving special, emergency use authorization for two new vaccines.  OPB’s Jes Burns reports that the Oregon Health Authority says they’re expecting to receive approximately 35-thousand doses of the Pfizer vaccine on December 15th and then another 72-thousand doses from Moderna a few days before Christmas.These first vaccines have been earmarked for heath care professionals – it’s enough to give about 1/3 of the state’s healthcare workforce the first dose they’ll need to be protected against COVID-19.  Patient trials have shown both vaccines to be 95% effective after receiving the second dose.