COVID-19 vaccine

The recent surge in COVID-19 has put Coos County in unchartered territory.

In August, the county recorded 1,077 cases, easily the largest month since the pandemic hit locally in April 2020.

"Nearly 32 percent of all our cases came in August," said Dr. Eric Gleason, assistant director of Coos Health & Wellness. "1,077 cases, which is nearly a third of all our cases. It's kind of easy to say we did so much damage to our community."

As of Thursday, Coos County has reported 3,506 COVID cases since the pandemic began. There were 602 active cases, with another 170 people being monitored. Twenty-five people were hospitalized in the county, and 55 people have died since getting the virus.

"As of right now, it's overwhelming out healthcare community, both locally and nationally," Gleason said.

For the last week, Coos Health & Wellness has been hosting a COVID testing clinic with Bay Area Hospital. The free tests are available from 8 a.m. to noon weekdays at the hospital. The clinic is using Binax rapid tests get results almost immediately.

The Binax test has had some controversy because it has a high number of false negatives, where people who have COVID test negative.

"If you test positive with Binax, you are positive," Gleason said. "If you're sick and you test negative, you might want to get a PCR test. Usually if you test positive, you are positive. We have a fairly high false negative rate, but if you test positive, you are positive."

Gleason said if someone tests negative but has symptoms, they should ask their primary care provider for a PCR test, which takes longer but is more reliable. The Oregon Health Authority does offer PCR testing at the hospital from noon to 6 p.m. Thursdays. Gleason said if you have symptoms, you should act as if you have the virus regardless of test results.

"I think it's better to err on the side of caution," he said.

Over the last month, the number of children getting COVID has also climbed, with 171 people under age 19 getting COVID. With school starting, Gleason said that number is likely to rise.

"I think it's fair to be concerned we're going to have higher rates of COVID cases in that population once school is in full swing," Gleason said. "Once you put them all back together, we anticipate we'll see more cases."

While cases among children are likely to rise, the younger population remains the safest from the worst of the disease. As of Thursday, no one under 18 has been hospitalized during the pandemic in Coos County.

Gleason said while the Delta variant has proven to be more dangerous and more deadly, it also mirrors earlier variants that eventually go away. Areas where the variant hit first have seen cases recede after lengthy struggles.

"Modeling suggests our peak should be coming in the next few weeks," Gleason said. "That doesn't mean once we get through this we can relax. Last time we relaxed, we got August."

Gleason said the easiest way to protect oneself from COVID remains to get vaccinated. The vast majority of people who are hospitalized or those why die continue to be unvaccinated. With booster shots for those who are vaccinated expected to boost up in the coming weeks, Gleason said larger vaccine clinics are soon to be announced.

To learn about the clinics or to schedule a vaccine, visit www.cooshealthandwellness.org

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