Omicron, an unwanted guest at New Year’s 2022 parties


'Launch the new year with joy and with the thought of taking care of each other'

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Multnomah County officials, seeing a lot of breakthrough cases with omicron, are worried about a rise in COVID cases linked to New Year’s Eve celebrations. They’re very afraid of hospitals reaching capacity and essential businesses having trouble functioning because of quarantining workers.

At the 7th annual Governor’s Ball at the Sentinel Hotel in downtown Portland, musician/host Patrick Lamb played for a smaller crowd this year. The event, a fundraiser for the Children’s Cancer Association, required attendees to wear a mask unless eating or drinking.

But proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test wasn’t a requirement.

One of the people at the gala, Alexa Heilbrun, told KOIN 6 News her grandfather is one of the people in her group who is at risk of infection.

“He’s one of my best friends and he’s in an at-risk population because of his age and because of a pulmonary disease,” she said. “I plan on keeping my distance for 2 weeks, unfortunately.”

Multnomah County Deputy Health Officer Dr. Ann Loeffler said there are some simple ways to stay safe and slow the spread of omicron.

“Just stay home and away from new people for about 10 days because that’s the period you are very likely to have picked it up,” Loeffler told KOIN 6 News.

The Governor’s Ball at the Sentinel Hotel in Portland, December 31, 2021 (KOIN)

“We’re worried about hospitals filling up and grocery stores, pharmacies, all those essential businesses being able to stay open because there’s so many people in isolation and quarantine,” she said.

If you were at a larger New Year’s Eve event, Loeffler said you should also be very diligent about masking and wear the highest quality mask you can get your hands on for the next few weeks.

“Launch the new year with joy and with the thought of taking care of each other,” she said.

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