Cases double among school-aged children in Lane County, health officials say

Lane County Public Health cited one example where an unvaccinated teacher traveled during spring break and exposed several school community members, including students, to the virus upon returning.

Posted: Apr 1, 2021 7:05 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- The number of new COVID-19 cases among school-aged children in Lane County has doubled during the past week, according to local health officials.

Lane County Public Health cited one example where an unvaccinated teacher traveled during spring break and exposed several school community members, including students, to the virus upon returning.

That teacher did not receive a COVID-19 test before returning to the classroom, but according to local health officials, they were tested after showing symptoms. That test came back positive.

Everyone who was exposed to that teacher has been contacted, Lane County Public Health said.

Health officials were unable to say which school district this incident occurred in, but confirmed it did not take place in Bethel, 4J, or Springfield districts.

During a press conference Thursday morning, health officials said Lane County’s current metrics indicate a possible move to the high risk category when risk levels are reassessed for Oregon counties.

This news comes nearly one week after Lane County moved into the low risk category.

"We are not out of the woods yet and can very much experience case surges," Lane County Public Health spokesman Jason Davis said. "We can still experience high numbers of hospitalizations despite really great coverage in some of our most at-risk populations."

But there’s still time to reverse numbers. Counties facing the possibility of moving to more restrictive risk levels are granted a two-week grace period to attempt to lower the numbers.

Moving to high risk would mean that businesses including restaurants and fitness centers would be forced to once again lower their maximum capacity from 50 percent to 25 percent.

"Nobody wants to go backwards. Everbody wants to go forwards, so having to basically go through the rollercoaster of ups and downs and everything else when you're able to seat only 25 and you can't afford to have as many employees here, it's a huge chain effect," said Chris Novara, the owner of Buddy's Diner in Eugene.

KEZI also spoke to Dede Dorsey, the general manager at Elements Health Club at the Oakway Center.

"Changing statuses as often as we do keeps us on our toes because we have to make sure we're following the guidelines each time," Dorsey said. "Some guidelines may change ever so slightly from one tier to the next, and for us trying to keep compliance, sometimes the members have a hard time following so they get frustrated."

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