By Gordon McCraw, Tillamook County Emergency Manager & COVID-19 Incident Commander
Yesterday, marked the one year anniversary that COVID came to Oregon. It was February 28, 2020 when Oregon had its first confirmed case of COVID-19. To date, COVID has clamed over a half a million lives, more than 2,200 in Oregon. The good news, if there is some, Oregon is reported to have the 4th lowest case rate in the U.S., the 4th lowest death rate, and as high as it is, still the 4th lowest COVID death rate among seniors. I did research last week for Tillamook and found there were only 4 other counties with a lower death rate, ours remains at 2, and there were only 8 counties with a lower case count. As of February 25, 2021, Tillamook County reported 12 new cases and was monitoring about 50 individuals. There was one person currently hospitalized with a total of 23 hospitalizations to date. The test positivity rate is currently at 2.1%.
Tillamook County’s low numbers can be attributed to its citizens wearing masks, limiting in-person gatherings, and maintaining social distancing as recommended. Another factor was the quick response and actions by County Leadership. Remember though, the pandemic is still here and now we hear of more contagious variants which luckily, the vaccine appears to also be effective against. As of last Friday, Tillamook County had vaccinated 14.4% of its residents and there is another small percentage that may have gotten their shots elsewhere, like at the Pharmacy, or the VA, not included in the County’s numbers.
The Governor has now released the next eligible groups with the earliest day they are eligible for the vaccine. This includes adults 45-65 with underlying health conditions and others eligible after March 29th (See the Oregon Health Authority website for additional information). Know that the Tillamook County Vaccine Partners are working very hard to get through all the eligible groups but is currently restricted by the number a vaccine doses received each week. They are currently scheduling appointments and working through the Phase 1b, Groups 2-4. If you are 65 or older and have not registered to receive your shot there is a link on the Tillamook County Community Health webpage, tillamookchc.org. Once registered, they will call you as soon as they can to schedule your appointment. There is no need to call them. If you just show up at the vaccine event without an appointment, you will be turned away as they fill up the schedule so, there are no additional openings. As of 2/26/21, the providers have administered 3,808 doses to Phase 1a and Phase 1b eligible individuals with an additional 957 Boosters given.
See the Tillamook County Community Health Centers website: tillamookchc.org and OHA: https://covidvaccine.oregon.gov/ for more information on the vaccine updates.