The number of COVID-19 cases is likely much higher than reported due to the prevalence of home testing.
Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties health officials warned of the overgrowth of the omicron strain of COVID-19 during a three-county health update on Thursday, January 6.
“We are dealing with a new strain of COVID that behaves very differently from previous strains,” said Dr Jennifer Vines, Multnomah County health officer.
Doctors said the number of coronavirus cases doubled week-over-week in the Portland metro area and that a Portland-area emergency room ran out of physical space for patients there. day before.
The overall message? If you go out and participate in normal activities in public, you are likely going to come across omicron. More people will be infected, disrupting services and daily life, but most, if vaccinated, “will show mild or no symptoms of omicron.”
What can you do?
Stay up to date on vaccines and reminders, reduce the number of people you come into contact with, if possible, and wear a properly fitted mask.
While Oregon has seen a record number of daily COVID-19 cases since the end of December, including many breakthrough cases in those vaccinated, the actual number of infections is likely much higher. This is because many people use home kits to test themselves for the virus. The results of home kits are not reported to public health agencies.
“People who are positive for COVID right now should expect to have omicron and should not expect to hear directly from public health,” Public health official Dr Sarah Present said on Thursday. of Clackamas County.
Access to testing was difficult to find.
Dr Present said the state does not have enough testing kits for the general public, but urged people not to go to their local hospital if all they need is a COVID-19 test. .
When it comes to treating positive patients, health officials have said treatments are limited and some are not effective against the omicron variant.
“You may have heard of treatments like monoclonal antibodies and newer antiviral pills,” said Dr. Christina Baumann of Washington County. “Unfortunately, their supply is really limited, especially since some monoclonal antibody treatments are not as effective against omicron. Vaccines remain our best and most available tools for preventing serious disease.”
Those who need elective health services or have questions about the virus can call 2-1-1.
Why not put in place some restrictions?
When asked why county officials don’t recommend limiting indoor dining or other public gatherings, health officials said without state buy-in they were limited.
Dr Vines called the restrictions on collection “a blunt tool to limit the spread”.
“As soon as the federal government and the state signaled that this type of approach was not on the table, they basically took it off the table for the counties because, as you know, a single jurisdiction or even one region, it is difficult to achieve the same effect. ”
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