Vines: Multnomah County COVID surge manageable — for now

Coronavirus

'We still have a lot of the winter to get through'

PORTLAND, Ore, (KOIN) — Tri-county Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines said there’s a bit of good news, that the sacrifice from the public last month paid off.

“I can thank you and your constituents for respecting the freezes and the pauses and the pleas to take Thanksgiving plans down a notch,” Vines told Multnomah County leaders during a Zoom conference on Tuesday night. “It worked and our hospitals continue to function. They continue to have capacity.”

She told commissioners and other county staff members that even though we’re still in the middle of a COVID surge, it’s manageable — for now.

“We still have a lot of the winter to get through, including some holidays that are right in front of us.”

And though the vaccines are being distributed, Vines said it’s important for everyone to still wear a face mask.

“It’s going to take us a long time to get through the priority groups. Again people are not going to be protected from the vaccine until two weeks after their second shot,” she said. “So even for an individual who’s first in line, their start-to-finish is going to be about 6 weeks from starting their vaccine until they are fully protected.”

Since the COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Oregon, slightly more than 7200 people have received the first of the two doses. But details are still being ironed out for who gets the vaccine after the first part of Phase 1.

The Multnomah County Health Department’s Kim Toevs told county staff it will take at least a month, probably longer, to vaccinate those in Phase 1A. That includes anyone who works in a hospital and people in long-term care facilities.

Who will be in Phase 1B is going to be determined by a state advisory board that is currently being established.

“They are starting up a community advisory board that will be statewide. They have a lot of applicants for that board, they’ll be announcing soon who’s on the board,” Toevs said. “I believe the first meeting will happen in January where they’ll be trying to engage and variety of community voices and helping get input in that planning.”

She also talked about vaccinating homeless individuals and said it’s going to take a lot of resources and intensive work, but there are good community partnerships to help the process.”

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