Omicron cases grow in county

Scott Swanson

The omicron variant of the COVID virus continues to rack up infection numbers in Oregon and locally, health officials and state agencies report. 

“I would say, at this point, that we’re still having cases increase,” said Todd Noble, Linn County health administrator. 

“We do know that the surge will start to go down here in pretty short order, just as it has across the country.” 

The Oregon Health Authority reported 19,400 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. Monday, Jan. 24, bringing the state’s total number of reported cases to 590,270.

OHA also reported 17 new deaths, which along with the 19,400 new cases, included data recorded by counties for the three-day period between Jan. 21 and Jan. 23.

For the period of Jan. 10 – 23, Linn County reported 3,592 COVID cases. Lane County, whose population is roughly three times Linn County’s, reported 8,971 during the same period. 

The most recent figures for the Sweet Home zip code, from Jan. 19, showed 2,044 total COVID cases, a rate of 15,066 per 100,000 population, the scale used by the state to gauge the infiltration of the virus.  Lebanon totaled 5,030 cases, which would be 17,579/100,000. 

“Per 100,000, Oregon has less deaths than every single state across the country, other than one,” Noble said. “By and large, it’s because citizens of Oregon have been taking responsibility. There’s room for improvement, but I think omicron will start coming down in the next couple of weeks.” 

The county held its last general walk-up vaccination clinic Jan. 19, which it opened to children 5 to 12. 

Neva Anderson, county emergency preparedness coordinator, said about 2,500 shots had been administered since the county resumed mass vaccination clinics earlier this month. Anderson said the county will transition to mobile clinics in area communities starting this week.

“We ended mass vaccinations last week,” Noble said. “We could do 1,500 a day and we were averaging between 200 and 600. That big of a need hasn’t been there, so we’re shifting to smaller, mobile clinics.” 

Vaccinations are also available at Safeway in Sweet Home, at the Brownsville Pharmacy, and at Walgreens, Walmart, Safeway, Nova Urgent Care and Rite Aid in Lebanon. 

Information on vaccines is available at

Noble said that vaccination rates in the east county areas have been lower, “but I do think that, as time has gone on, things have improved.”

He predicted that as people get vaccinated or contract omicron, immunity will  rise.

The OHA reported that during the week ending Jan. 15, there 

Though omicron has affected some who were vaccinated,  but had not gotten a booster, as well as some who have, “the breakouts haven’t been as much with a booster,” Noble said. 

Those cases, called “breakthrough cases,” comprised 19 percent of the COVID cases reported during the week ending Jan. 15, according to the OHA, which noted that many such cases involve symptoms so minor that they don’t get reported, “therefore, the true number of vaccine breakthrough cases is unknown.” 

Noble said he was one. 

“I myself got it, but it was the mildest cold I’ve ever had in my life. I felt pretty confident because I had my vaccinations and booster. For most people, it seems that if they’ve had their booster, they’re in much better shape.”