Tillamook County Health Department reported during a Tillamook County Board of Commissioners meeting Wednesday, Aug. 18, 66 COVID-19 cases from Friday, Aug 13, through Sunday, Aug. 15. There were 181 cases reported for the seven-day period and 274 cases in the last 14 days.
“All of these figures are the highest we’ve seen since the start of the pandemic,” Administrator Marlene Putman said.
Putman said through July, breakthrough cases were estimated at 8 percent of COVID-19 cases throughout the state and 10 percent in Tillamook County.
“We’ve had 35 hospitalizations,” Putman said during the Aug. 18 meeting. “This was as of Monday morning.”
The county’s test positivity rate is 22.1 percent, the highest it has been since the start of the pandemic, Putman added. This rate tells the percent of COVID-19 tests that come back positive. Region 1 hospitals – Tillamook, Clatsop, Clackamas, Columbia, Multnomah and Washington counties – have 91 percent of adult ICU beds occupied, as of Sunday, Aug. 15.
“Oregon Health Authority reports that the Delta variant is three times more transmissible than earlier strains of the virus and causing a high rate of infection,” Putman said.
Gov. Kate Brown announced Thursday, Aug. 19, health care workers – along with teachers, educators and staff of K-12 schools – will be required to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18 or six weeks after full FDA approval, whichever is later, unless an exemption is met.
Putman said the health center and the mobile testing site are experiencing an overwhelming request for COVID-19 testing. There may be a wait to get a test. Testing is available at no cost. To schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 test with the health department, call 503-842-3900.
As of Aug. 19, 15,232 Tillamook County residents have received one dose of the vaccine and 14,157 are considered fully vaccinated.
Gov. Kate Brown’s mask mandate
Regarding Gov. Kate Brown’s recent mask mandate, which became effective Aug. 13, Putman said all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear a face mask, face covering or face shield when in an indoor space, unless they meet specific exceptions.
“Indoors means anywhere indoors that is not a private residence or a private automobile being used for personal use,” Putman said.
The Tillamook County Fair took place Aug. 11-14. Before the fair opened, Commissioner Erin Skaar and Chair Mary Faith Bell had put up signs at the main gates and entrances to buildings, recommending wearing masks.
“We provided masks at all our entrance gates and several other locations around the ground,” Fairgrounds Manager Camy VonSeggern told the Headlight Herald. “We provided 17 hand sanitizing stations throughout the grounds, in addition to rented hand washing stations already provided.”
The recommended mask guidance was changed from recommended to mandatory Aug. 13, halfway through the fair events. VonSeggern said the fair office received new signage that morning that was put up at the entry to indoor spaces.
“Beyond having signage posted, masks and hand sanitizing stations available, the fairgrounds was not in a position to do much more with the personnel it had and very little time to acquire additional staff or volunteers,” VonSeggern said regarding enforcement of the mask mandate. “There was also a very real concern about not putting staff or volunteers in an untenable position, as we had no real means of enforcement for wearing masks.”
Tillamook County Sheriff Josh Brown made a statement regarding enforcement of the mask mandate Thursday, Aug. 19, via social media. He said the sheriff’s office would not be enforcing any mask mandate.
“I don’t believe it is the role of the sheriff’s office to enforce what is essentially an Oregon Health Authority directive, not a criminal one,” Brown stated. “TCSO is not the enforcement arm for OHA and my deputies will not be treating people like criminals if they choose to not wear a mask.”
Brown said if a customer is not complying with the wishes of a business, a representative from that business could ask the customer to comply or leave. If the customer does not comply, the business should contact law enforcement.
“While we will not be enforcing the mask mandate, we will be enforcing crimes such as harassment and trespass,” Brown said. “If a customer in a business located within the county refuses to leave an establishment after being asked to do so, or there is a physical altercation with another person, deputies will respond and investigate as they for other suspected criminal activity.”
Oregon Health Authority reports this week a COVID-19 outbreak at Fred Meyer with 19 cases, Tillamook Youth Correctional Facility with 13 current cases, Tillamook County Creamery Association with 10 cases, and Tillamook Country Smoker with five cases.
Tillamook Youth Correctional Facility wrote in an email Tuesday, Aug. 17, the entire facility is in quarantine. Deputy Communications Manager Sarah Evans said prior to the outbreak, the facility had zero COVID-19 cases among youth and one among workers since the start of the pandemic. The facility has encouraged vaccines for youth in custody.
Fred Meyer spokesperson Jeffery Temple said currently, 21 associates out of the store’s 285 associates have tested positive for COVID-19, many of which have fully recovered and returned to work. All of these associates self-quarantine in alignment with the company’s emergency leave guidelines. The store had a professional third party sanitation company provide deep cleaning Aug. 4, 13,19.
“Through regular communication with the health department, we’ve affirmed that our processes continue to live up to our high safety standards in protecting our more than 39,000 associates and the millions of customers that visit our stores each week,” Temple said.