LINCOLN COUNTY — In her announcement of counties allowed to enter phase one of reopening, Gov. Kate Brown said the Oregon Health Authority would monitor for a surge in coronavirus cases, which might necessitate the reimposition of stay-at-home orders. Timed with news of Lincoln County’s qualification for phase one, the health department launched a campaign to help prevent a backslide.
It seems an eternity since March 23, but it’s been less than two months since the threat of the coronavirus prompted Brown’s stay-at-home order. Since that time, according to an online platform that tracks social distancing using mobile device data, local residents have consistently been among the best in the state at abiding by physical-distancing guidelines, and that conscientiousness seems to have paid off. Lincoln County has not seen a high number of confirmed COVID-19 cases.
On Saturday, a person in their 60s who had contact with another COVID-19 patient became the county’s eighth confirmed case. Only one of those eight was hospitalized, and five are now listed as recovered. About 1,100 people in the county have been tested. Thanks to those low numbers, and preparation by local officials and health care providers, on Friday, Lincoln County residents could sit down in restaurants again — and get their hair styled for the occasion — albeit with added restrictions in place that might mean a somewhat different experience.
To help maintain the low infection rate, Lincoln County Public Health wants the community to remain mindful of key health measures that are all the more important with the resumption of some social activities. The “Keep Lincoln County Open” campaign, launched Thursday, stresses three main practices the health department says are crucial to keeping the county open:
• Physical distance — Be at least 6 feet from people you don’t live with, stay close to home and avoid trips outside your community, and stay home altogether if you are sick.
• Protect others — Cover you cough and sneeze with your elbow or a tissue, avoid touching your face and use face coverings in public.
• Keep clean — Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds (between washing, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol) and frequently disinfect your work and living space, especially high touch places like doors and handles.
The messaging comes with simple infographics (co.lincoln.or.us/hhs/page/keep-lincoln-county-open) that public health officials hope will be distributed far and wide. Susan Trachsel, public information officer for the health department, said the campaign has been shared with counties across the country, some of which have decided to adopt it for their own awareness efforts.
“We knew that with phase one coming, it could be seen as a ‘back-to-normal’ declaration. That’s not what it is, so we wanted to have something easy to remember to prevent a surge in cases that would overwhelm our hospital system, not to mention have new restrictions put in place,” Trachsel said.