COVID-19 Updates by Dr. Lara Gamelin, M.D.

Written on September 13, 2023

           
COVID-19 Boosters

If You Test Positive


If you are infected with COVID-19 you do not need to isolate for a set number of days. However, you
should be aware that you can get others sick. If you have COVID-19:

 Stay home until you have not had a fever for 24 hours without using fever reducing
medication and other COVID-19 symptoms are improving.

 Avoid contact with high-risk individuals like people who live in congregate care facilities or
people with immunocompromising conditions for 10 days.

 Mask when you are around other people in the 10 days after you become sick or test
positive.


If you have a severe case, are hospitalized or are severely immunocompromised please follow the
recommendations above, avoid contact with high-risk people and mask for 10-20 days. Please
contact your healthcare provider for advice on how long to isolate. Having a negative home test once you have been positive does not negate the above recommendations.

At the start of September, another sub variant–Omicron EG.5–has taken over as the country’s
predominant strain, accounting for 17% of COVID-19 cases nationally, though it is not predominant in
Oregon at this time. This variant is one of many evolutions of previous Omicron strains and is not
expected to behave differently than other circulating variants.

“This kind of change is normal and expected as the virus that causes COVID-19 continues to evolve,” said
Dr. Dean Sidelinger, OHA state health officer and state epidemiologist. “But our message to Oregonians
remains the same. Our current tools–vaccinations and well-fitting masks–will continue to protect us.
Individuals should stay up to date with recommended COVID-19 vaccines, especially those at higher risk
for severe disease and those who live with someone at higher risk, and receive the new, updated
vaccine beginning this month as recommended. Well-fitting masks worn in indoor crowded settings also
offer protection to the person wearing the mask as well as those they return home to.”

The new, updated COVID-19 vaccine, expected to be available this month, will target the Omicron XBB
strain, and because EG.5 is an offspring of XBB, the new vaccine should provide decent protection
against severe disease from EG.5. Once the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorizes it, the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will finalize recommendations for who should receive
it and when.

We’ve seen a small increase in the COVID-19 hospitalization rate, in Oregon and the U.S., which is
primarily affecting individuals 65 and older. CDC forecasts do not predict a significant increase in COVID-
19-related hospitalizations in Oregon in the short term.

OHA monitors COVID-19 activity in our community using percent positivity and wastewater levels. Percent positivity in Oregon has been rising throughout the summer and currently sits at 10.7%. There is
more COVID-19 circulating in Oregon now than in the spring, but circulation was at an all-time low in the
spring, and overall transmission remains modest.

Wastewater levels are not showing dramatic increases or decreases in transmission in most
communities; rather transmission is relatively stable. So while we have seen increases in transmission
over time, they have not been sudden or dramatic.

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