Health officials expect more cases of omicron variant


Dr. Donna Hansel, chair of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at OHSU, believes more positive cases are on the horizon.

PORTLAND, Oregon – The omicron variant of COVID-19 is now in Oregon, but public health officials have said those vaccinated, especially those who received booster shots, did not have to s ‘worry.

“We shared that it was a question of when, not if, the omicron variant of COVID-19 would be detected in Oregon,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger. “We recognize that this is frightening news for a lot of people.”

Sidelinger said the first three cases were in Multnomah and Washington counties. The individuals are between 20 and 30 years old. Two had recently traveled abroad. All three are fully vaccinated.

“Once I saw that there were confirmed cases in California and Washington, I thought it was only a matter of time,” Dr. Jennifer Vines said.

Vines, public health official for the tri-county region, said she was not too surprised that the omicron variant appeared in people who were fully vaccinated. She said the vaccine does not prevent the virus from entering the nose or throat.

“Vaccines do what we hope they will – prevent serious disease,” said Dr. Vines. “If seriously ill, hospitalizations, death from infection.”

RELATED: LIST: Where Have Omicron Cases Been Confirmed In The United States?

The first three cases of Oregon omicron were detected by genomic sequencing at OHSU. Dr. Donna Hansel, chair of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at OHSU, believes more positive cases are on the horizon.

“I think we expect to see a lot more of it,” said Dr Hansel. “It appears the virus doubling time is two to three days, so we expect this to be an exponential increase in the number of positive cases we have.”

Experts say the new variant makes vaccination and recall, wearing masks and social distancing all the more important. In addition, people traveling abroad are encouraged to get tested three to five days after returning home.

“All of these measures help us protect ourselves as the individuals, families and loved ones we come home to, as well as our community at large,” said Sidelinger.

RELATED: What Happened to Contact Tracing? Here’s a look at what Oregon and Washington are doing right now.

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