Baker City herald. (Baker City, Or.) 1990-current, July 16, 2022, Page 6, Image 6

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New omicron variant drives up COVID-19 reinfection
Oregon Capital Bureau
The BA.5 omicron variant has
swept into Oregon to become the
dominant strain of COVID-19 and
increasing the risk of re-infection.
The Oregon Health Authority
confirmed late Tuesday, July 12 that
BA.5 accounted for the largest share
of new infections.
It also has a higher likelihood of
being able to get past vaccinations
or immunity due to exposure to pre-
vious infections.
Officials said waning protec-
tion from vaccinations and earlier
infections was resulting in break-
through cases and second bouts of
“Community-level immunity has
decreased since the early omicron
surge last winter,” Dr. Melissa Sut-
ton, who leads the state’s efforts on
respiratory viral pathogens, said
in a statement. “Immunity from a
COVID-19 infection may only last a
few months.”
The health authority reported
last week that about 56% of new in-
fections were in people who had at
least one shot of the vaccine. Un-
vaccinated people have a far higher
likelihood of severe illness and
Since the pandemic began in late
December 2019, 6.3 million people
worldwide have died, including over
1 million in the United States and
7,884 in Oregon.
As of Wednesday, July 13, 458
people were in the hospital with
COVID-19, the health authority
reported. Officials estimate that
at least half of those patients were
admitted for reasons other than
COVID-19, and tested positive on
The Oregon Health and Science
Continued from A5
The trend is similar to one
in 2016 when the state gave lo-
cal governments the ability to
opt-out of legal cannabis sales,
Oregon Public Broadcasting
Many Eastern Oregon cities
and counties banned cannabis
sales initially, but some com-
munities saw a shift in opinion
after cannabis became a tax
boon for municipalities once it
was legalized.
Wednesday’s public listen-
ing session allowed residents
CDC/Contributed Photo
A COVID-19 particle is pictured in this
image provided by the Centers for Dis-
ease Control and Prevention.
University’s most recent forecast,
issued July 7, projected hospitaliza-
tions would peak at about 479 on
July 12.
Severe cases will gradually de-
cline, falling back to levels under
200 by mid-August and returning to
the lows seen in April by September
1, the report said.
Dr. Peter Graven, the chief
COVID-19 forecaster at Oregon
Health & Science University, said
the current rise in infections is the
seventh wave of COVID-19 since
the virus appeared in Oregon in late
February 2020.
The COVID-19 virus has shown
an unceasing ability to morph over
the 30 months since it first broke
out in Wuhan, China.
Researchers say it is too early to
determine if BA.5 and the less com-
mon new variant, BA. 4, will behave
like previous omicron variants that
spread faster and wider than any
version of the virus seen during the
pandemic, but was relatively less vir-
to comment and ask ques-
tions. Oregon Psilocybin Ser-
vices said it will post online re-
sponses to the questions in the
coming weeks.
Under the measure, only
licensed facilitators can pos-
sess and administer psilocybin
services. Clients, who must
be 21 or older, must consume
the substance at an approved
site under a facilitator’s super-
The measure directs OHA
to license and regulate the
manufacturing, sale and pro-
vision of psilocybin services.
It also created OPS, a new sec-
ulent, especially for those who are
vaccinated and had booster shots.
While individual outcomes are
less severe, the sheer number of
cases caused by the ever-more-rap-
idly spreading omicron variants can
hit an already overstressed health
care system.
Deaths fell sharply in Oregon un-
til early April when they started to
climb again.
There were 83 COVID-19-related
deaths in the state in April, 136 in
May and 123 in June. The highest
monthly death toll was 931, in Sep-
tember 2021 during the delta vari-
ant surge.
Fatalities in the state from the vi-
rus echo trends around the coun-
try. The seven-day average for daily
deaths in the U.S. was up 26% over
the past 14 days, to 489 on July 12.
Dr. Eric Topol, director of the
Scripps Research Translational In-
stitute in San Diego, told the Asso-
ciated Press Wednesday that BA.5 is
“the worst variant yet.”
But it is unlikely to be the last.
The constant reports of new subva-
riants show evolution is not some-
thing that takes a millennium, but in
the case of the coronavirus, months
and sometimes weeks.
“I think what all of these variants
are showing us is that the virus has
not come anywhere close to explor-
ing all of the evolutionary space
available to it,” Dr. Bruce Walker,
director of the Ragon Institute in
Boston, which studies infectious
diseases, told Fortune magazine last
week. “There are an infinite number
of combinations of mutations that
can arise that can affect transmissi-
bility and immunity.”
Over the past two weeks, there
have been reports of a subvariant of
the subvariant — BA.5.3.1 — which
tion housed in OHA, to over-
see the creation and imple-
mentation of a new regulatory
OPS, still in its two-year
development period, is aim-
ing by year’s end to establish
the rules on psilocybin facil-
itator licensure and training,
case management, compliance
and product tracking, among
The Food and Drug Admin-
istration has named psilocybin
a “breakthrough” therapy for
severe depression. The desig-
nation can expedite the devel-
opment of drugs that intend
has quickly spread in Germany to
account for nearly a third of all new
cases this week. An Australian re-
searcher gave it the nickname of
“Bad Ned” because of its N E136D
For people in Oregon who are
vaccinated and had boosters, the
chances of severe illness from omi-
cron variants are 2% and death
The wider spread of omicron
variants, the sometimes milder
symptoms, and increased use of
home testing make counting new
infections difficult.
“We know that we’re only detect-
ing a small fraction of cases overall,”
said Sutton, the OHA official.
Analysis of wastewater has be-
come a more reliable gauge of the
presence of the virus in a commu-
nity. The percentage of tests that
come back positive also gives a
snapshot of the level of community
Test positivity as of July 11 was
14.6%. OHA officials have said
throughout the pandemic that a
positive test rate under 5% indicates
a level of contagion that health offi-
cials can manage.
Breakthrough cases
The Oregon Health Authority’s
most recent update on COVID-19
cases, released July 7, showed
45,843 reported cases of COVID-19
infection during the month of June.
The majority of cases — 25,907,
or 56.5% — were vaccine break-
through cases in people who had
some level of vaccination. Fully vac-
cinated and boosted people made
up 41.1%.
Unvaccinated people accounted
for 19,923, or 43.5%, of cases in June.
More than 80% of Oregonians
to treat serious conditions and
that could substantially im-
prove upon available therapy
based on preliminary clinical
evidence. Outside of certain
scientific research contexts,
however, the substance re-
mains illegal under federal law.
Measure 109 was one of two
drug-related ballot initiatives
approved by Oregon voters
in November 2020. Measure
110 decriminalized the pos-
session of small amounts of
hard drugs including heroin,
methamphetamine, cocaine
and LSD, marking another na-
tional first.
eligible for inoculation have had at
least one dose of the vaccine.
Residents who are fully vacci-
nated and have received booster
shots as recommended by the CDC
make up just over 47% of the pop-
Since the beginning of the pan-
demic in Oregon in February
2020, OHA has reported 259,450
COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough
cases in Oregon. Of those cases,
78,313, or 30.2%, were fully vacci-
nated and boosted at the time of in-
Just 2.6% of all vaccine break-
through cases have required hospi-
talization and 0.6% have died. The
median age of vaccinated people
who died is 80.
The Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention currently recom-
mends a COVID-19 vaccination
for everyone age 6 months or older.
Boosters are recommended for
those age 5 and older.
How to avoid COVID-19
The Oregon Health Authority
also suggested the following mea-
sures used earlier in the pandemic
to keep the virus from spreading,
Wearing masks indoors in pub-
lic settings such as shops, gyms,
and in restaurants when not eat-
When possible, large events
should be outdoors, where the
breath of a possibly infected per-
son has a much higher chance to
dissipate than in enclosed spaces.
People planning to visit elderly,
immunocompromised or unvacci-
nated people should take at-home
tests prior to getting together and
a few days afterward.
Continued from A5
The infested trees in For-
est Grove were cut down
and chipped within 48 hours
of the discovery.
In 2021, the Oregon Inva-
sive Species Council final-
ized the Emerald Ash Borer
Readiness and Response
Plan for Oregon to guide the
state in its response.
The Oregon Department
of Forestry has already col-
lected seeds from Oregon
ash trees across the state to
try and preserve as much of
the tree’s genetic diversity
as possible. Researchers will
test the seeds to see if any
have resistance to ash borers
and if so, they may be able
to breed resistance into local
strains and replant them.
Oregonians, cities and
towns should consider re-
moving ash trees that are
already in poor health
or growing in spaces too
small for them, and re-
move ash trees from ap-
proved street tree lists, of-
ficials said. Portland has
already removed it from
trees it plants in the city.
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your tire photo
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210 Bridge St. Baker City, OR