MultCo Health director: ‘Vaccines work, may save your life’

Coronavirus

COVID cases from delta variant spiking among unvaccinated

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Just when it seemed there was a return to normal this summer, the spread of the delta variant and the rising COVID cases have Multnomah County public health officials asking for people to once again mask up inside buildings.

Multnomah County Public Health Director Jessica Guernsey said this applies to you even if you’re vaccinated.

“Every hospitalization and death is preventable,” Guernsey told KOIN 6 News. “We have seen breakthrough cases, so that concerns us. So if someone is mildly symptomatic and not wearing a mask, even though they’ve been vaccinated, there is a chance they could spread it to other people.”

In data release Monday, the Oregon Health Authority announced the deaths of 5 more people and another 2056 cases over a 3-day period. The state and the county are still pushing for the unvaccinated to get a shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We know the vaccines work very well and will protect you. In fact, they may save your life,” Guernsey said.

She added another round of closures is not out of the question.

“I can’t say those decisions wouldn’t be off the table if we had a situation that was concerning regarding hospitalizations, deaths, and just spread of the virus,” she said.

When asked if they planned to reinstate any closures or restrictions, Gov. Kate Brown’s Deputy Communications Director Charles Boyle said there is no plan at this time for any state-issued directive.

“The Governor is incredibly concerned about the increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations we are seeing due to the spread of the Delta variant in areas with low vaccination rates. COVID-19 is now a preventable disease. Vaccination is clearly our best defense against the Delta variant. We are working with hospitals and health care providers to maintain hospital capacity. We know masks can help reduce spread, which is why we are strongly recommending universal indoor mask use.

“Counties, cities, and employers also have the ability to institute their own requirements, and we expect local leaders in areas most impacted by COVID-19 to take action. Oregonians have been through so much this past year and our businesses have shouldered huge burdens. While we have learned not to rule anything out, we also know that locally-driven response efforts are most effective at this stage in the pandemic to reach unvaccinated Oregonians. One-on-one conversations at the local level between friends and family members, as well as messages delivered by trusted messengers like doctors and family health care providers are the most effective way to reach vaccine-hesitant individuals.

“OHA continues to remain in close communication with hospital leaders, and Oregon hospitals are working within the statewide coordination plan developed early in the pandemic to maintain capacity.”

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