EUGENE, Ore. – New COVID-19 variants have been confirmed in Lane County, public health officer Dr. Patrick Luedtke said Thursday.
The New York and UK variants have both been identified in our area, and there have been additional cases of the California variant, which was first confirmed in Lane County weeks ago.
"We have invited them to our county by recent travel and by persons no longer practicing the strong infection control measures that we would like them to practice," Luedtke said.
Luedtke said the arrival of these variants is no surprise, as they have been spreading across the country. The variants are a concern but they’re not scary, he said.
One of the most effective tools in combating the more transmissible variants is vaccines, Luedtke said.
"We must not only continue these robust vaccination efforts, we really must increase them," Luedtke said.
Monday, every Oregonian over the age of 16 becomes eligible to get receive the vaccine. Lane County Public Health spokesman Jason Davis said people can make appointments on Lane County's website.
"I'd like to remind everybody that the first dose that is available really is the best dose," Davis said. "Certainly, looking at our community immunity, that 70 to 75 percent of our overall population that need to be vaccinated to prevent large scale outbreaks -- we need your help in that."
This comes as new COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Lane County. On Thursday, 75 new cases were reported by Lane County Public Health.
"These latest numbers are really troublesome and really represent what we believe is a surge," Davis said.
According to Davis, the new cases are stemming largely from household transmission, gatherings among coworkers and religious activities. There's also been a significant increase in the number of cases among school-aged children, Davis said.
"Since March 24, we've seen 93 K-12 cases and that is very significant and represents some of the highest numbers of school-aged children that we've seen yet in the pandemic," Davis said.
Davis said Lane County is currently on track to move to the "high risk" category when the Oregon Health Authority reassesses risk levels next week.