Diminishing hospital capacity prompts emergency COVID-19 guidance for Lane County

By Brian Bull (KLCC)
Aug. 23, 2021 5:47 p.m.

Increasing COVID-19 hospitalizations compelled Lane County Public Health to issue emergency guidance Saturday.

Effective immediately and regardless of vaccination status, people are advised to wear masks indoors when near others not from their homes. Masks should be worn outdoors when it’s impossible to socially distance from others not from your immediate household.


People are also advised to avoid any unnecessary business or leisure travel, carry masks and hand sanitizer with them, and to wash their hands as much as possible. Furthermore, LCPH says to limit activities that could cause injury, requiring hospitalization.

And above all else, to get vaccinated if you haven’t already.

In a release, Lane County officials say hospitalizations from COVID-19 surpassed 100. All 62 I-C-U beds have been full for the past 48 hours, with half occupied by COVID-19 patients.

“While Lane County hospitals serve as a medical hub for several counties, the percentage of hospitalizations from Lane County is growing and now represents 75% of hospitalizations,” the release continues. Many attribute the spike to new variants of COVID-19, including the highly transmissible Delta variant which some Oregon officials say is behind nearly all cases now.

In an effort to counter the escalation of cases, LCPH has made the following recommendations for all Lane County residents effective immediately:


For individuals, regardless of vaccination status:

  • Wear masks in indoor spaces with other individuals outside of your immediate household;
  • Wear masks in outdoor spaces when maintaining six feet of distance is not possible from other individuals outside of your immediate household;
  • Carry masks and hand sanitizer with you when leaving home and wash your hands as often as possible;
  • Avoid crowded public spaces, whether in or outdoors;
  • Avoid unnecessary business or leisure travel;
  • Respect other’s space and maintain at least 6-ft. distance from others;
  • Limit activities that could lead to injuries requiring hospital care;
  • If you are an unvaccinated adult, stay home and avoid public interactions as much as possible;
  • Get vaccinated

Additionally, the LCPH Administrator will bring a draft board order to the Lane County Board of County Commissioners sitting as the Lane County Board of Health (BOH) on August 24th. The second draft Emergency Public Health Advisory will add immediate recommendations for businesses, organizations, and employers to implement to curb ongoing community spread, defend dwindling hospital capacity in the county, and save lives.

LCPH says while the advisory won’t be presented until Tuesday, they’re calling on businesses, organizations, and event organizers to consider the following recommendations ASAP:

For businesses:

  • Ensure indoor masking consistent with previous LCPH advisories and Governor Brown’s masking order
  • Ensure outdoor masking for those older than five years of age (two and older if tolerated) - regardless of vaccination status - when in outdoor public spaces in which six feet of distance cannot be consistently maintained;
  • Limit capacity to facilitate social distancing, particularly when customers will be eating and drinking without masks;
  • Prominently post appropriate signage to remind customers to observe COVID-19 safe practices;
  • Prominently post signage about the vaccination status of your business and staff.

Public venue owners, operators and permitting authorities:

  • While peer-reviewed evidence of outdoor transmission risks associated with the delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 is incomplete, we believe that the safest strategy is to avoid public events greater than 200 people indoors and outdoors for at least the next two weeks. We strongly consider postponing events until a later date when transmission risk is reduced. If this is not possible, we recommend taking the following steps:
  • Require indoor and outdoor masking, regardless of vaccination status;
  • Consider requiring proof of vaccination for entry;
  • Consider capacity limits to facilitate distancing, whether in or out of doors;
  • Provide ample sanitation stations for handwashing;
  • Consider entrances, exits, and other areas where people tend to clusters – ensure that attendees have room to queue that facilitates spacing. Use signage and staff to remind people to maintain distance and use masking, indoors and outdoors;
  • Consider touchless vending options, if possible;
  • Prominently post appropriate signage to remind customers to observe COVID-19 safe practices; reinforce via public address announcements throughout the event.


  • Ensure that employees follow public health measures outlined above;
  • Encourage remote telework for employees for whom this is possible;
  • Ensure that workplaces can facilitate distancing where possible;
  • Limit unnecessary travel for employees;
  • Encourage and provide support needs

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