As Omicron lurks, COVID cases on the rise again

·2 min read

Dec. 7—As the world begins to prepare for a new variant of COVID-19, Coos County is still struggling with the Delta variant.

While case numbers have dropped from the highs of September and October, new cases and new deaths continue to be announced at a rate higher than any month before Delta arrived.

After cases dropped late in November, Coos Health and Wellness reported case numbers were beginning to move upward again, with health experts concerned the holidays could lead to another spike.

As of Thursday, the county reported 239 active cases and 11 people in the hospital. With three new deaths reported last week, the death toll of people who died after contracting COVID was 110.

Several of the new deaths were from previous months as the Oregon Health Authority worked to report a backlog of deaths linked to Delta.

While Delta continues to impact the county, many are already keeping an eye on Omicron, a variant recently found in South Africa. The Omicron variant is reported to be highly contagious, although early signs show the variant might have milder symptoms than Delta.

"It is in the States now. I believe it's in California," said Katrinka McReynolds with Coos Health and Wellness. "We've had several variants of concern. Delta is the only one that really created an issue. We're still waiting to see what Omicron will bring on. We just don't know."

McReynolds said the state does testing on positive cases to determine the variant of COVID, but it cannot use the rapid test most local places offer. When Omicron is found in Oregon, OHA will announce it.

When the new variant arrives and how it impacts the county is still to be determined.

"If there's nothing we've learned from this, it's not really predictable," McReynolds said.

One bit of good news from the health department's view is the number of people who have been vaccinated continues to inch upward. As of Thursday, 69.1% of adults in Coos County have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

While the vaccine has been approved for young children now, the rollout for those ages 5 to 11 has been slow. As of Thursday, 334 young children have been vaccinated, just over 7% of those eligible in that age bracket.

Even as vaccinations rise, Coos Health and Wellness is concerned cases might increase in the near future with the holiday events coming up.

"If anything, we're expecting an increase," said Becky Fairhurst. "With gatherings and travel, we're prepping for an increase."

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