Since Friday, July 23 through late morning Friday, July 30, Wasco County has had 62 cases of COVID-19. More were coming in Friday afternoon.

Of those 62 cases, 55 were in unvaccinated people.

The 62 cases would be enough to put the county in the “extreme risk” category under the county risk level framework the state of Oregon previously used. It puts the county in the “high risk” category that the CDC uses.

Contact tracers at North Central Public Health District have noticed changes in the spread of COVID compared to last November. Then, if someone in a household was positive, other household members — but not necessarily all of them — would eventually, over weeks, also test positive.

Now, entire households are quickly becoming sick at about the same time.

“It’s so much stronger and faster,” said Maria Acevedo, a contact tracer for NCPHD. Among a large number of cases that came in last Monday, she said, “Not a lot of them got admitted to the hospital, but a lot of them went to ER.”

Among the 62 cases since last Friday, 48 were among those younger than 50, and 19 were people 19 or younger.

That is consistent with national reports that cases are occurring in younger people now, mostly because older people are largely vaccinated.

Several recent changes in guidance highlight the high transmissibility of the delta variant that is now believed to be responsible for 80% of cases in Oregon.

First, the CDC now recommends that vaccinated people who have been exposed to someone with a positive test should get tested, said Jeremy Hawkins, epidemiologist for North Central Public Health District. Previously, they were not advised to get tested after an exposure.

Second, guidance earlier this week from federal and state health officials recommends everyone, whether vaccinated or not, wear masks in public indoor places. Oregon has also determined that students in grades K-12 must wear masks in the coming school year.

NCPHD and other participating providers in Wasco County are now offering $50 gift cards (or vouchers to submit to NCPHD for gift cards) to people getting their first dose of vaccine. Also participating is One Community Health, Mid-Columbia Medical Center and its clinics, Deschutes Rim Clinic in Maupin and Rite Aid Pharmacy.

In response to the spike in cases, the Wasco County Board of Commissioners have returned to remote online meetings, and have reinstated COVID-19 updates. The next meeting of the board is Wednesday morning, Aug. 4, from 9 a.m.

For more information, visit COVID-19 Vaccine in Oregon, contact North Central Public Health District at 541-506-2600, or visit www.ncphd.org or on Facebook.

Washington COVID

Between February and June 2021, most people in Washington who died of COVID-19 were unvaccinated, according to a new reporting from theWashington State Department of Health circulated in a press release from Klickitat County Emergency Services.

The COVID-19 delta variant is having “devastating impact” on people who are unvaccinated, and underscores once again the need for people to get vaccinated now, if they haven’t already, the release stated.

The new data, released July 28, shows that between February and June, at least 94% of COVID-19 cases, deaths, and hospitalizations in individuals 12 years or older from Washington state occurred in individuals who were not fully vaccinated.

As of July 24, 61.4% of those eligible to receive vaccines had completed an approved vaccination series in the state.

“We urge those who are eligible to get vaccinated. If they still have questions, we encourage them to speak to their healthcare provider,” said Secretary of Health Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH. “We all have a role to protect our community, especially those who are most vulnerable.”

This data will be updated weekly in the new COVID-19 Cases, Deaths and Hospitalizations in Persons Who Are Not Fully Vaccinated report.

The report provides an overview of confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths among people who are not fully vaccinated in Washington state.

“Not fully vaccinated” is defined as those who have not received any dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or have received one or more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine but are not fully protected.

Full protection from vaccination occurs about two weeks after receiving the final dose of an authorized COVID-19 vaccine because it typically takes that long for the body to build a high enough level of protection to fight the disease.

More details will be added to the report, including demographics and trends, over the next few weeks. The new report can be found in the Reports section on the COVID-19 Data Dashboard, Washington State Department of Health.