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Lane County COVID-19 update, Oct. 12: Three deaths, 115 additional cases reported

The Register-Guard logo The Register-Guard 10/12/2021 Register-Guard
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Empty vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on January 22, 2021. © Thomas Kienzle/AFP Empty vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on January 22, 2021.

Lane County reported three deaths and 115 confirmed or presumptive cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, raising the death toll to 286 and the countywide case count of 26,678.

There were 551 people considered infectious, down 4% from Monday's 574.

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There were 48 hospitalized in Lane County, a 33% increase from Monday's 36, with 17 in intensive care, up two from Monday, and nine on ventilators, down one from Monday.

Of the 48 Lane County COVID-19 patients hospitalized Sunday, 77.1%, or 37 of the 48, were unvaccinated, Lane County Public Health reported.

As of Sunday, 250,264 people in Lane County, 65.62% of the total population, had received first or second doses with 481,986 first and second doses administered in Lane County, according to the Oregon Health Authority.

The Oregon Health Authority reported Monday details of four Lane County deaths. They were:

  • An 81-year-old man who tested positive July 16 and died at his residence; date of death is being confirmed. He had underlying conditions.
  • A 90-year-old woman who tested positive Oct. 5 and died Oct. 8 at McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center. She had underlying conditions.
  • An 83-year-old man who tested positive Aug. 13 and died Aug. 26 at his residence. He had underlying conditions.
  • An 88-year-old man who tested positive Aug. 6 and died Aug. 18 at his residence. He had underlying conditions.

Seattle opening winter vaccination sites

SEATTLE — Seattle is rolling out COVID-19 vaccine sites as more people become eligible for booster shots.

On Monday Mayor Jenny Durkan and representatives from Amazon, Swedish Medical Center, Virginia Mason Franciscan Health and the Seattle Fire Department announced the heightened vaccine initiatives beginning later this month.

The initiatives are geared toward underserved communities.

“As we head into the colder months, and additional groups become eligible, it is so important for us to have the vaccine and booster shots available to keep us safe,” Durkan said.

The Seattle Times reports the site at the Amazon Meeting Center downtown will open on Oct. 23, and operate from 9:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, through early 2022.

“This is a drop-in, you don’t need an appointment, and you can get your first, second, or your booster shot,” the mayor said.

Participants will not need proof of insurance or identification to receive vaccines at the site or through the mobile clinics, which will focus on serving those that are eligible for boosters and children in underserved areas, as Pfizer requests FDA approval for use in children 5-11 years old.

In the next two weeks, Durkan says, the city will announce additional community hubs in the South End and West Seattle.

Durkan said the city will invest around $2 million in the new vaccine efforts.

A spokesperson for the city said after the news conference that the city will seek federal reimbursement for the funds, and anticipates that money, closer to $2.1 million, will cover the mobile clinics as well as the fixed Amazon, South End and West Seattle vaccine sites through February 2022.

New York must allow religious exemptions

New York must allow religious exemptions to the state's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for medical workers, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

U.S. Northern District Justice David Hurd of Utica granted a preliminary injunction temporarily barring New York state and employers from enforcing the COVID-19 vaccine mandate against medical workers claiming a legitimate religious exemption. Last month, Hurd issued a temporary restraining order blocking enforcement of the mandate in relation to religious beliefs. 

The mandate requires most medical workers statewide to get the first COVID-19 vaccine dose by Sept. 27, or lose their jobs. It prodded about 55,000 workers to get the shot, but left the fate of at least 35,600 other workers refusing shots uncertain.

Many of the medical workers who had claimed religious exemptions had been placed on suspensions pending the outcome of the court battle. These workers, potentially numbering in the thousands, could now return to jobs as some hospitals and nursing homes face staffing shortages.

David Robinso

Also in the news:

►The state of Florida is investigating dozens of local governments, performing arts centers, the Miami Marlins, a law enforcement counter-terrorism unit and a concert by singer Harry Styles for violating a law that bans requiring proof of vaccination.

►The FDA's independent advisers convene Thursday to begin weighing whether booster shots for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines should be dispensed and who should get them. Final approval is not expected for at least another week.

► United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the pandemic has forced more than 100 million people into poverty and left over 4 billion people with little or no social support, health care or income protection.

►Russia registered a record 973 daily coronavirus deaths Tuesday as it faces a rapid surge of contagion amid low vaccination rates.

📈 Today's numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 44.4 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 714,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 238.4 million cases and 4.8 million deaths. More than 187 million Americans  – 56% of the population – are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

Texas Gov. Abbott expands ban on vaccine mandates

Gov. Greg Abbott has issued an executive order prohibiting COVID-19 vaccinations mandates for employees or consumers across the state, an expansion of a prior order limited to government entities. Abbott also asked lawmakers to tackle the issue during the current special legislative session, ensuring that "no entity in Texas can compel receipt" of the vaccine.

"The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and our best defense against the virus, but should remain voluntary and never forced," Abbott said in a statement.

Abbott, who was previously vaccinated and also later tested positive for COVID-19, has urged Texans to get vaccinated throughout the pandemic but had already banned school districts, cities, counties and government agencies from requiring the shots. The  Legislature passed a law earlier this year prohibiting so-called "vaccine passports," meaning private businesses cannot require patrons to wear masks, but until Monday companies were allowed to mandate vaccines among employees.

– Madlin Mekelburg, Austin American-Statesman

Illinois VA nursing home didn't follow guidelines. 11 residents died.

Leaders and staff at a federal veterans’ nursing home in Illinois mismanaged a coronavirus outbreak that killed 11 residents in fall 2020, well after employees had been put on notice about the danger the pandemic posed to its elderly population, a government investigation found. A staff member exposed at home was denied a test and told to just wear a mask while finishing a shift caring for residents. The employee tested positive the next day. Testing was inconsistent, even after the virus started to spread within the Veterans Affairs complex in Danville. Isolation of exposed individuals was haphazard, the investigation found.

“Direct care staff described chaos and a lack of awareness of what to do,” the inspector general at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs concluded in a report released last month. Read more here.

Donovan Slack

More virus treatments expected soon

Several new COVID-19 treatments are likely to become available within the next few months. Each drug fills a slightly different role, but together they could change the course of the illness, at least in the United States. An experimental antiviral from Merck and a monoclonal antibody from AstraZeneca, along with a handful of other drugs making their way through the development process, could make COVID-19 a much less fearsome disease.

"We're at the point where if we could use these medications all to their interlocking benefits … we could really begin to control the impact this virus has on us, and in particular on the health care system," said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease physician at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville.

Karen Weintraub

Moderna has no plans to share its COVID-19 vaccine recipe

Moderna has no plans to share the recipe for its COVID-19 vaccine because executives have concluded that scaling up the company's own production is the best way to increase the global supply, the company’s chairman said. The United Nations health agency has pressed Moderna to share its vaccine formula. Afeyan said the company analyzed whether it would be better to share the messenger RNA technology and determined that it could expand production and deliver billions of additional doses in 2022.

“Within the next six to nine months, the most reliable way to make high-quality vaccines and in an efficient way is going to be if we make them,” Moderna chairman Noubar Afeyan said. Asked about appeals from the World Health Organization and others, he contended that such pleas assumed ”that we couldn’t get enough capacity, but in fact we know we can.”

The COVID-19 vaccine is Moderna’s only commercial product. The company announced plans last week to open a vaccine plant somewhere in Africa. Afeyan said he hopes a decision will be made soon on an exact location. Still, it could take years to get the plant up and running.

Health workers, educators see high vaccination rates with mandates

Almost all of Washington and North Carolina's state health workers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while 99.99% of Cincinnati Public School employees have complied with the district's mandatory vaccination policy. The high vaccination rates come after mandates from the federal government, states and local school districts. The White House released a report last week contending that vaccine mandates would lead to millions more Americans getting vaccinated.

The report found that businesses instituting vaccine mandates have seen their number of fully vaccinated workers rise above 90%.

California coronavirus death count tops 70K as cases fall

California’s coronavirus death toll reached another once-unfathomable milestone – 70,000 people – on Monday as the state emerges from the latest infection surge with the lowest rate of new cases among all states. Last year at this time, cases in the state started ticking up and by January California was in the throes of the worst spike of the pandemic and was the nation’s epicenter for the virus. Daily deaths approached 700.

The latest surge started in summer and was driven by the delta variant that primarily targeted the unvaccinated. At its worst during this spike, California’s average daily death count was in the low 100s.

— The Register-Guard, Associated Press, USA TODAY Network

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This article originally appeared on Register-Guard: Lane County COVID-19 update, Oct. 12: Three deaths, 115 additional cases reported

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