According to the New York Times Coronavirus Data Tracker, Benton County added 43 cases of COVID-19 to the county’s total number of cases, bringing the county total up to 2,646. The county remains in the “high risk” category, and according to the Benton County COVID Data Dashboard, confirmed cases amongst young adults aged 18 to 29 years old still make up the majority of infections being recorded.  

State-wide, Oregon COVID rates are rising, with daily case reports varying from roughly 250 to over 750 this past week. The Oregon Health Authority also reported that deaths and hospitalizations increased compared to the week before. The OHA’s COVID data tracker shows that this past week was the third full week of steadily rising COVID case trends throughout the state, which officials warn is the beginning of a fourth wave of the pandemic.  

This trend is also mirrored nation-wide, as the CDC reported the U.S. had its third straight week of increasing virus cases. The country added almost 400,000 cases to its case total this week, which was the highest weekly count since early February.  

Vaccination Eligibility and Clinics 

Currently, Oregon is still vaccinating all groups up to and including Group 7 in Phase 1B of the state’s vaccination plan. Visit the OHA vaccine website to check your eligibility. As of this week, almost 22% of all Oregonians and almost 28% of Benton County residents have been fully vaccinated. This makes Benton County one of the counties with the highest vaccination rate in the state. 

Vaccinations are still only administered by appointment. More appointments are becoming available as more clinics open up to eligible residents. In Benton County, in addition to Reser Stadium (see below for my own experience getting vaccinated there), there is now mass vaccine clinics being held at the Alsea School and at the Monroe Grade School. You can visit the County’s vaccine information webpage to learn how to make appointments at these specific locations.  

Governor Kate Brown announced this week that the state will be accelerating its timeline yet again, with eligibility opening up to all Oregonians aged 16 years and older starting April 19. This is promising news for anyone hoping to return to a somewhat more normal lifestyle within the year.  

Quick Commentary on Getting Vaccinated at Reser 

received my first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Reser Stadium this past Friday, and I was surprised by the well-oiled machine-like efficiency of the experience. This is no small operation. With dozens of volunteers and large spaces to operate multiple vaccinations at once, I was checked-in, vaccinated, and leaving the stadium within 25 minutes. The volunteers were friendly and instructions were clear for people with an appointment scheduled. They also made it clear when I was expected to come back for my second dose.  

Just one thing to note for anyone making an appointment at Reser in the upcoming weeks – it’s still early spring and the clinic is all outdoors. Bring a jacket! You will need to sit and wait the required 15-minutes post-vaccination to monitor for any immediate reactions.  

Overall, despite the chill and the pinch from the syringe, this was a shockingly painless process. Which should not be surprising, as most of Benton County’s 39,900 residents who have been vaccinated with at least one dose have done so at the Beaver’s home turf.  

Updates on the Fourth Wave in the U.S. 

An article by the Associated Press published earlier this week reported that the concerning rise in COVID cases in the country are concentrated in five states; New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Michigan, and Florida. According to AP research, nearly half of the roughly 400,000 cases reported in the U.S. last week were from these eastern states.  

Health officials believe virus variants, like the B.1.1.7 variant, are at least partly responsible for these hot-spot surges, but major tourist traffic during spring break to the beaches of Florida undoubted played a role as well. Because of this, the beginning of the fourth wave of the pandemic is unique in that many cases are being reported amongst young adults.  

So, this should serve as a reminder that while vaccinations are continuing to ramp up, COVID cases are rising, and we should not let our guard down. 

By: Lauren Zatkos 

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