Coos Health & Wellness

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Indoor dining and recreation will remain open in Coos County as high case counts and hospitalizations statewide force new lockdowns in 15 counties.

Coos County continues to see some of its lowest case counts in months, with 113 cases per 100,000 in population between April 11 and 24 and a 3.1% test positivity rate for the same time frame keeping it squarely in the high-risk category of restrictions.

Meanwhile, Oregon’s per-100,000 rate is 240 for the time frame, and its test positivity was 5.7%. The skyrocketing numbers and busy hospitals caused the Oregon Health Authority to announce new lockdowns across the state, with 15 counties returning to the high-risk category of restrictions.

But Coos County has seen an increase in school-age child virus exposures, and has seen virus transmission in school activities, according to Coos Health & Wellness.

As of Tuesday, the agency had seen 13 school-related exposures (defined as one virus-positive student coming in contact with other students in classrooms, on busses or in other school activities) — up from just six in March, according to Becky Fairhurst, a CHW public health nurse.

There are probably some logical explanations for the increase — like the fact that more students go to schools in person than a month ago — but Fairhurst said the exposures still provide an important reminder for parents.

“If there has been a known exposure, or the child is sick, anything like that, we would like for them to keep their child home and take appropriate measures per doctor and school policy,” Fairhurst said.

While virus symptoms are typically milder for younger people, Fairhurst said children can still pass it to others in their family who might be at higher risk for the virus.

“So if we know there’s an exposure and there’s any type of symptoms, then parents should take that as potentially that was COVID, and they should get tested and keep them home, because they are contagious for 10 full days, regardless of whether they’re feeling better or not,” Fairhurst said.

With more students back in classrooms, CHW assistant director Dr. Eric Gleason said it’s important to keep kids home if they’re feeling sick, even if symptoms are mild and might have previously passed for allergies or a minor cold.

“That’s kind of a non-starter anymore because those youth could be contagious, it could be a symptom, and because they are younger they have maybe less dramatic systems, or less severe symptoms, that could cause its own domino effect (after) sending them to school,” Gleason said.

Coos County health officials also reported a new virus-related death over the weekend.

A 61-year-old man who tested positive for the virus on April 16 died on April 22, according to OHA. The presence of underlying conditions was still being confirmed when the man’s death was reported Saturday.

The man was the 32nd county resident to die with the virus, according to CHW.

In more positive news, the county’s vaccination effort is continuing, with the county’s 38.7% vaccination rate just under the state’s 40.2%.

The county’s resumed administering the doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine it has on hand after federal and regional regulators endorsed the use of the vaccine last week.

Vaccine appointments can be made at a variety of locations across the county. County hospitals are scheduling vaccine appointments on a coordinated calendar, available online at www.communityhealth.events/scheduler or by calling 541-465-7353.

CHW is planning a vaccination event for 16- and 17-year-olds on May 8. Registration is available at the same hospital link. Oregon law doesn’t require parental consent for anyone over 15 to receive a vaccine.

Appointments for doses can also be made at Rite Aid, Safeway and Albertsons stores, Fred Meyer, some Health Mart pharmacies, Bi-Mart and Walmart.

The county is also using a website to distributed leftover doses at risk of expiring at the end of vaccination events. That website is available at hidrb.com.

Reporter Zack Demars can be reached at worldnews3@countrymedia.net.

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