Omicron overwhelms system and public health to decide contact tracing approach | News

The Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) now predicts a peak in hospitalizations in Oregon by the end of January, followed by a sharp decline after the peak.

As of Wednesday, Jan. 12, Lincoln County had 323 new cases of COVID-19 from Jan. 7-11, four people currently in intensive care units at local hospitals, and a total of 59 deaths since the pandemic began.

Director of Public Health Florence Pourtal spoke at a meeting of the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday, Jan. 12, about the importance of people getting vaccinated and boosting in terms of hospitalizations.

“When hospitals are full of COVID patients, it means there are no more beds available for anyone else,” Pourtal said.

Pourtal said that because the omicron variant is so transmissible, the number of cases in Oregon, the United States and around the world is overwhelming and has overwhelmed the system. With the delta variant surge, Oregon has seen about 3,000 cases a day. With omicron, it’s three times that number of cases.

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has decided not to require public health departments to contact everyone with a positive case and will leave the decision up to health departments.

“What’s likely to happen for us in Lincoln County is that we’re going to change the way we approach search and investigation,” Pourtal said. “We haven’t fully made our decision yet.”

If people want to be better protected against the omicron variant, they need to get vaccinated, Pourtal added.

“We have many clinics available where people can just walk in and get boosted right away,” Pourtal said.

Anyone 12 and older is now eligible to receive a booster five months after their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. Previously, people had to wait six months before receiving a booster shot.

“For [those] 12 to 17 years old, it is with Pfizer that they will be able to boost themselves,” said Pourtal.

The definition of fully immunized people has changed. Those who only received a second dose are no longer considered fully vaccinated. To be considered fully vaccinated, people must receive a booster shot.

“Lincoln County always does a really good job in terms of vaccinations,” Pourtal said. “I just want to remind people that your first two doses aren’t enough anymore and you need to go get a booster.”

Pourtal said 43% of the eligible population are fully vaccinated with a booster.

The vaccination bus is located at the exhibition center until January 20. The clinic is open without an appointment from noon to 7 p.m. daily.

Samaritan Health Services is still testing Monday through Friday in Newport and Lincoln City, but appointments are now required. You can make an appointment at Those without internet access can call 844-469-24-27 to schedule.

Lincoln County Public Health has yet to receive home testing kits. When they arrive, they will be distributed to local organizations. This supply is separate from what is sent by the government.

Call the Lincoln County Call Center at 541-265-0621 if you have any questions. Pourtal said the health department tries to make vaccines available close to where people live.

To find a COVID-19 testing location, visit

To find a COVID-19 vaccination clinic, visit

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