For the first time since the COVID-19 response started earlier this year, Lane County has increased the local alert level to high. This means there are increased cases and spread in our community, local healthcare facilities are stressed but still have some room, and most importantly, we must all take measures to limit contact and modify everyday activities to reduce exposure.
The number of COVID-19 cases in Lane County has grown at an alarming rate since early September. According to Lane County Public Health, we are on an upward trajectory that could have exponential growth over the coming weeks.
“This should serve as a reality check and wakeup call for people in Eugene and throughout Lane County,” Mayor Lucy Vinis said. “If we don’t recommit to drastic measures now – things like limiting our interactions with others, wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing, staying home when we’re sick and washing our hands – this virus could devastate our community. Our neighbors, friends and family could get sick, need to go to the hospital and in some cases – even die.”
According to Lane County Public Health, social gatherings have been the biggest driver of increased cases, especially among people ages 17-28. There have been seven recent outbreaks among this age group. Some of the people at those outbreaks contacted a large number of people after contracting the virus. It is important to understand that young people can and do get the virus, and can then spread it to even more vulnerable populations without knowing it.
“This is a community-driven virus and we all need to look at our own actions and behaviors, regardless of age,” Incident Commander of Eugene’s response Chris Heppel said. “We don’t live in vacuums, we’re all connected in some way. We need to evaluate when and how we’re having those social interactions. If they’re not necessary at this point, it’s probably best to hold off.”
Lane County Public Health is expecting this uptick to last for at least three to four weeks, longer if people don’t modify their behaviors. We urge you to please think about your actions over the coming weeks and make sure you’re practicing the four Ws:
- Wear a face covering – indoors and outside when you can’t maintain 6 feet of space, it’s a statewide requirement
- Watch your distance – stay 6-feet apart from those outside your household and limit your gathering size
- Wash your hands – often with soap and water for 20 seconds throughout the day
- Wait it out – stay home if you are sick
As flu shots become available this season, please utilize this public health tool. Preventing flu cases helps COVID-19 efforts in our community by decreasing the strain on our healthcare resources.
Answer the Call – Contact Tracing is Important to Stop the Spread
If you get a call or voicemail from a Public Health contact tracer, please answer or return the call. Contact tracing is critical to our community’s ability to continue limiting the spread of COVID-19. People who participate in contact tracing are actively helping to keep their community safe by helping public health officials track the virus. For more information from Lane County Public Health on contact tracing please visit their contact tracing webpage. The State of Oregon’s contact tracing web page also offers useful information and resources.
See a list of Community Resources for physical and mental health, food, housing, businesses, employees, schools and children, as well as information in Spanish.
Also learn how you can help. Our partners have a significant amount of information available online. Please visit these resources for the most up to date information:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- State of Oregon
- Oregon Health Authority
- Lane County Public Health
Lane County Call Center: Open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., 541-682-1380