There is a way out of COVID-19 surges. Get vaccinated. Plenty of vaccine is available. The supply keeps rolling in. If you’re 16 and older, get your shot. Please, get your shot. It’s the best shot we have of bringing this under control.
Who the virus is striking in Deschutes County has shifted. There’s a very high concentration of the new cases among younger adults and teens.
Deschutes County health officials believe it’s at least partially related to people gathering and not wearing masks.
Vaccination rates also play a part. In Deschutes County, the vaccination rate is as high as 90% for people 75 and older. Among people ages 20 to 24, it’s only at about 25%. Some of that disparity is related to the way the vaccination program was rolled out.
Most young people are able to recover from the virus much more easily than older people. But when they get it, they can spread it. It also might get nasty.
County health officials pointed out in a briefing to Deschutes County commissioners on Wednesday that 1 in 5 previously healthy young adults weren’t back to normal 14 to 21 days after testing positive. Some experience months of debilitating symptoms, such as fatigue and fuzzy thinking.
Michael Johnson, a senior data scientist for the St. Charles Health System, told commissioners that the news is not all bad. The proportion of people with COVID-19 being hospitalized has declined by about 40 %.
There are, though, two unfortunate caveats. The severity of condition for those who are hospitalized has ticked up. And of those hospitalized with COVID-19 in the St. Charles Health System, about 10% die. That’s been a fairly consistent mortality rate throughout the pandemic, Johnson said. It’s unsettling. As of Wednesday there had been 78 COVID-19 deaths at the hospitals in the system.
The county has only experienced very few of what medical professionals call breakthrough cases. That’s when somebody who was vaccinated gets COVID-19.
Three patients who were vaccinated in Deschutes County had severe enough COVID-19 cases they ended up in the hospital. They were quite elderly, Johnson said, and none died.
With allergies kicking in this spring it can be difficult to figure out if a cough is COVID-19 or allergies. First of all, if you are worried, don’t listen to editorial writers, call your health provider. But there are a couple things to remember: body aches, chills, fever and loss of sense of taste or smell are indicators it might be COVID-19. If you ever have shortness of breath that is not due to a chronic condition, call your doctor or 911.
Starting next week, the county is going to start to ramp down its mass clinic at the Deschutes County fairgrounds. Vaccines will still be widely available at other clinics put on by the county, at Mosaic Medical, at pharmacies and more.
Want to get vaccinated? Have questions? Go to deschutes.org/covid19vaccine.
You can also call the county health department at 541-699-5109. They are happy to help.
And by the way, the county still needs volunteers to help with vaccination clinics. Volunteer to help them help us all.