Benton County added 79 cases of COVID-19 this week to its total pandemic case count according to the New York Times Coronavirus Data Tracker, meaning the county has had 2,732 reported cases of the virus since March of 2020. The county is still considered “high risk” despite a 3% COVID test positivity rate – one of the lowest in the state.

Oregon reported between nearly 300 and 900 cases per day this past week, an increase from last week’s daily case reports. Statewide case reports this week totaled over 4,400, for a total of over 174,000 cases so far during the pandemic. The United States added almost half a million cases to its nationwide total and recorded its fourth week of upward-trending case reports. Nearly 570,000 people have died in the U.S. since March of 2020, and while COVID-related deaths have decreased since the peak of the pandemic in January, these reports are also starting to trend upward.

Starting today – April 19, all Oregonians aged 16 years and older are eligible to schedule an appointment for a COVID vaccine. Vaccination clinics are still being held at Reser Stadium in Corvallis and the Monroe Grade School, and instructions on how to schedule a vaccine appointment can be found on the Benton County website.

The J&J Vaccine is Pulled

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration announced last week that the Johnson and Johnson vaccine distribution would be halted in the U.S. This was after six women reported a rare, severe type of blood clotting called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis. The CDC and Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will be investigating these six cases to further understand the J&J vaccines potential role in these blood clotting events.

Blood clotting events are extremely rare as they have occurred in only six of the 6.8 million J&J vaccines already administered in the U.S. According to a press release from the Oregon Health Authority, none of these cases occurred in Oregon. However, if you or someone in your family has received the J&J vaccine in the last three weeks and develops pain, breathing issues, or headaches, contact your health care provider immediately.

It is expected that an announcement will be made this week regarding the CDC and ACIP’s decision about the safety of resuming use of the J&J vaccine.

CDC Updated Guidelines for Fully Vaccinated Individuals

If you’re one of the more than one million people who have been fully vaccinated in Oregon, you may be wondering what is safe for you to do. The CDC recently updated its guidelines recommending safe ways for fully vaccinated people to start enjoying activities they have been avoiding since the start of the pandemic.

While it is still recommended to wear a mask and maintain the golden six-foot distance between yourself and others in a public setting, the CDC believes fully vaccinated people can visit with other fully vaccinated people without the mask as long as you’re in a private home. It is not recommended to visit with people without a mask if those individuals are at an increased risk of severe illness from COVID contraction – meaning if they have underlying health conditions.

Travel is now potentially much safer for fully vaccinated people. Again, it is recommended to maintain distance and wear a mask. However, the CDC has now given the green-light for fully vaccinated individuals to travel within the U.S. without a pre- or post-travel COVID test and without quarantining after traveling. Safety precautions may vary while traveling internationally, so check the policies of the country you are traveling to and plan accordingly.

It is still not advised to be gathering in medium or large crowds. So while music concerts or large parties continue to be considered risky, if you and the members of your household are vaccinated, a summer vacation to ease the stress might be a reasonable option.

By: Lauren Zatkos