NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, December 4th, 2021

COVID-19 Update: Pandemic set to enter a new phase as omicron variant spreads

It’s time for anoth­er install­ment of of our spe­cial series COVID-19 Update, bring­ing you the lat­est devel­op­ments on the nov­el coro­n­avirus out­break that pub­lic health author­i­ties here and across the coun­try are work­ing to mitigate.

United States

On Wednes­day, Novem­ber 29th, and Thurs­day, Novem­ber 30th, fed­er­al judges in the West­ern Dis­trict of Louisiana and East­ern Dis­trict of Mis­souri halt­ed the Biden administration’s vac­cine man­date for health care work­ers across mul­ti­ple states.

While over 96% of fed­er­al employ­ees and over­whelm­ing num­bers of mil­i­tary per­son­nel have met the require­ments of the man­date, it is very like­ly this and relat­ed fed­er­al vac­cine and test­ing man­dates will be decid­ed by the fed­er­al Supreme Court some­time ear­ly next year.

As of Wednes­day, Decem­ber 1st, with­in the Unit­ed States, approx­i­mate­ly 14% of all chil­dren between the ages of five and eleven, or just under four mil­lion chil­dren, have been vac­ci­nat­ed against COVID-19.

Kaiser-spon­sored polls that field­ed in late Octo­ber and mid-Novem­ber indi­cate vac­cine hes­i­tan­cy among fam­i­lies with chil­dren is sig­nif­i­cant, with a large por­tion con­cerned about the vac­cine ver­sus their child’s future fer­til­i­ty, and fam­i­lies liv­ing in pover­ty will present a unique chal­lenge to accom­plish­ing the task.

All that said, high demand and the inabil­i­ty to pro­vide in a time­ly man­ner vac­ci­na­tion boost­ers for adults, often due to declin­ing num­bers of phar­ma­cy employ­ees, has sig­nif­i­cant­ly squeezed access.

On Thurs­day, Decem­ber 2nd, the Biden-Har­ris admin­is­tra­tion unveiled a detailed nine-point plan for com­bat­ing the new Omi­cron vari­ant of the Covid-19 virus.

The plan includes the fol­low­ing strategies:

  • Boost­ers for All Adults
  • Vac­ci­na­tions to Pro­tect Our Kids and Keep Our Schools Open
  • Expand­ing Free At-Home Test­ing for Americans
  • Stronger Pub­lic Health Pro­to­cols for Safe Inter­na­tion­al Travel
  • Pro­tec­tions in Work­places to Keep Our Econ­o­my Open
  • Rapid Response Teams to Help Bat­tle Ris­ing Cases
  • Sup­ply­ing Treat­ment Pills to Help Pre­vent Hos­pi­tal­iza­tions and Death
  • Con­tin­ued Com­mit­ment to Glob­al Vac­ci­na­tion Efforts
  • Steps to Ensure We Are Pre­pared for All Scenarios

One hopes that these plans will include more effec­tive­ly assist­ing nations lack­ing robust pub­lic health sys­tems to absorb and admin­is­ter donat­ed vac­cines — what experts call “vac­ci­na­tion readi­ness” — to min­i­mize future muta­tions from abroad.

On Wednes­day, Decem­ber 3rd, an advi­so­ry pan­el to the Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion rec­om­mend­ed the autho­riza­tion of mol­nupi­ravir, an antivi­ral pill devel­oped by Mer­ck, to imme­di­ate­ly treat patients infect­ed by COVID-19.

The rec­om­men­da­tion fol­lows new data show­ing that mol­nupi­ravir reduced hos­pi­tal­iza­tion or death only by 30%, down from an ini­tial­ly report­ed 50%.

Wash­ing­ton

On Wednes­day, Decem­ber 1st, Franklin Coun­ty Com­mis­sion­er Clint Didi­er, in response to queries from Wash­ing­ton state Labor & Indus­tries regard­ing com­plaints of fail­ing to meet mask com­pli­ance at coun­ty com­mis­sion meet­ings, said that the “…pan­dem­ic is over…” and that “We’re a free coun­ty. Indi­vid­ual lib­er­ty reigns in Franklin Coun­ty, that’s my response.”

Fines may be levied against the coun­ty for its lack of compliance.

On Fri­day, Decem­ber 3rd, Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee, at a sched­uled news con­fer­ence, declared that while the omi­cron vari­ant of COVID-19 mer­its con­cern, deal­ing with the Delta vari­ant is still what wor­ries for him most. “Thir­ty-four per­cent of Wash­ing­to­ni­ans today are walk­ing around with a time bomb in their back­pack because they’re not vac­ci­nat­ed and we’ve been for­tu­nate to date by hav­ing some declin­ing num­bers, but that’s not a cer­tain­ty, par­tic­u­lar­ly with this new variant.”

On Sat­ur­day, Decem­ber 4th, Gov­er­nor Inslee released a state­ment after pub­lic health offi­cials con­firmed three cas­es of the Omi­cron vari­ant with­in Wash­ing­ton state. “We knew this day was inevitable, but the good news is we have more tools at our dis­pos­al to fight the virus than at any pre­vi­ous point in the pan­dem­ic, and we must con­tin­ue to pro­tect our­selves and our communities.”

“There is still much to learn about this vari­ant as sci­en­tists around the world con­tin­ue to study it. It remains as impor­tant as ever to get vac­ci­nat­ed, get boost­ed, wear a mask and be safe,” said Inslee. “We can­not yield an inch to this virus. Be vig­i­lant for any symp­toms – such as fever or fatigue – and mask up in pub­lic set­tings. We all have the pow­er to keep our com­mu­ni­ties safe.”

Here is a recent update of eli­gi­bil­i­ty for vac­cines and boost­ers in Wash­ing­ton state, and here is the best site to keep track of where you and your loved ones can be test­ed if necessary.

Oregon

The Ore­gon Health Author­i­ty has announced that it will roll out a dig­i­tal vac­cine card in March of 2022. Use of the card will be strict­ly vol­un­tary and optional.

On Tues­day, Novem­ber 30th, Gov­er­nor Kate Brown called a spe­cial ses­sion of the state leg­is­la­ture, to con­vene on Decem­ber 13th, to pro­vide fund­ing and extend­ed pro­tec­tions for renters with­in the state this winter.

On Sat­ur­day, Decem­ber 4th, David Kabua, Pres­i­dent of the Mar­shall Islands, made a vir­tu­al guest appear­ance in Salem Sat­ur­day as a fea­tured speak­er at a new vac­ci­na­tion clin­ic for Mar­shallese res­i­dents of Ore­gon at the Salem Con­ven­tion Cen­ter, cre­at­ed in con­junc­tion with the city of Salem.

If you or your loved ones need to be test­ed for COVID, here is where to check for test loca­tions with­in the state near­est where you live.

Idaho

On Wednes­day, Decem­ber 1st, Dou­glas Wold, a res­i­dent of Merid­i­an, was sen­tenced to almost three and a half months in fed­er­al prison for using fed­er­al funds set aside for COVID-19 test­ing at his employ­er, Fry Foods, in near­by Ontario, Ore­gon to pur­chase a speedboat.

On Thurs­day, Decem­ber 2nd, jury tri­als in the 1st Judi­cial Dis­trict of north­ern Ida­ho were post­poned through the week of Decem­ber 6th, due to con­cerns of poten­tial­ly spread­ing the virus through juries.

There isn’t, unfor­tu­nate­ly, a state-spe­cif­ic site for where test­ing for COVID-19 is avail­able. This site appears to be what is rec­om­mend­ed by the state of Idaho.

British Colum­bia

On Tues­day, Novem­ber 30th, the first known infec­tion of the Omi­cron vari­ant of COVID-19 with­in the province was found in a per­son resid­ing in the Fras­er Health region, who had recent­ly returned home from trav­el­ing in Nige­ria. Provin­cial Health Offi­cer Dr. Bon­nie Hen­ry says that per­son is present­ly isolating.

On Wednes­day, Decem­ber 1st, the Koote­nay Inter­na­tion­al Junior Hock­ey League announced that Ter­ry Jones, head coach and gen­er­al man­ag­er of the Beaver Val­ley Nite­hawks, had been sus­pend­ed for eight games because two of his play­ers par­tic­i­pat­ed in team activ­i­ties for about three weeks after hav­ing received only one dose of a COVID-19 vac­cine. The team was also fined $2,500 for vio­lat­ing the league’s vac­ci­na­tion policy.

That same day, the Col­lege of Chi­ro­prac­tors of British Colum­bia vot­ed 78% in favor for their pro­fes­sion­al reg­u­la­tor to “take a stand” against a promised COVID-19 shot man­date through a res­o­lu­tion to “main­tain the right to med­ical free­dom of choice” for chiropractors.

Here is a focal point for test­ing pro­vid­ed by the provin­cial government.

The hard, cold numbers (plus vaccinations)

Wash­ing­ton has had 784,224 cas­es and 9,473 attrib­ut­able deaths.

The state has the forty-fifth worst infec­tion rate among the fifty states, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia and Puer­to Rico per mil­lion in population.

The state has the forty-fifth worst death rate among the fifty states, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia and Puer­to Rico per mil­lion in population.

9,842,443 tests have been recorded.

  • Dos­es of vac­cine dis­trib­uted to the state: 13,915,795
  • Dos­es admin­is­tered: 11,268,717 (80.98%)

Ore­gon has had 394,569 cas­es and 5,243 attrib­ut­able deaths.

The state has the forty-eighth worst infec­tion rate among the fifty states, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia and Puer­to Rico per mil­lion in population.

The state has the forty-sixth worst death rate among the fifty states, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia and Puer­to Rico per mil­lion population.

8,142,091 tests have been recorded.

  • Dos­es of vac­cine dis­trib­uted to the state: 7,953,005
  • Dos­es admin­is­tered: 6,193,364 (77.87%)

Ida­ho has had 308,669 cas­es and 3,969 attrib­ut­able deaths.

The state has the sev­en­teenth worst infec­tion rate among the fifty states, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia and Puer­to Rico per mil­lion in population.

The state has the thir­ty-fourth worst death rate among the fifty states, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia and Puer­to Rico per mil­lion in population.

2,297,384 tests have been recorded.

  • Dos­es of vac­cine dis­trib­uted to the state: 2,741,310
  • Dos­es admin­is­tered: 1,881,077 (68.62%)

British Colum­bia has had 219,584 cas­es and 2,351 attrib­ut­able deaths.

4,682,135 tests have been recorded.

British Colum­bia has the sixth worst infec­tion rate and the sixth worst death rate among the thir­teen Cana­di­an provinces and ter­ri­to­ries per hun­dred thou­sand pop­u­la­tion. (If it were an Amer­i­can state, it would be fifty-third and fifty-third, respec­tive­ly, out of fifty-three.)

  • Dos­es of vac­cine dis­trib­uted to the province: 9,403,360
  • Dos­es admin­is­tered: 8,761,618 (93.18%)

That does it for this install­ment of COVID-19 Update. Stay safe and well!

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