59th Florence Case of Coronavirus; Vaccine Delivery; Record Setting Day for Deaths; Police Arrest Suspects

59th Florence Case of Coronavirus

Yet another COVID-19 cases for the Florence area.  Yesterday Lane County Public Health updated their numbers for the 97439 zip code adding the 59th case in the area since the pandemic began.  Currently Peace Harbor Hospital does not have any beds filled with coronavirus cases, although last week one person was sent to PeaceHealth Riverbend from Florence.  Cases have been on a steady rise in the past several weeks along the coast.  Governor Brown also added the remaining coastal areas to her extreme risk list of counties.  Prior to this week Lane County was the only county on that list.  Tillamook, Clatsop, Lincoln, Coos and Curry join Lane in extreme risk for spreading COVID-19.  Lane County was put on the list primarily due to the spread throughout the Eugene/Springfield area and not due to the numbers here in Florence.  The list has been growing as a result of statewide numbers rapidly increasing.

Vaccine Delivery

The COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer is being distributed around the state.  The number of doses being distributed is just over 30,000 to start, but Florence will have to wait a bit before Peace Harbor and skilled nursing facilities get their share.  Dr. Heather McArthur, Medical Director with Peace Health says it shouldn’t be a long wait though.

”Peace Harbor, being small, kind of was a little bit down that list of who got vaccine so we expect to see our shipment come the very first of January, very end of December.”

McArthur said that PeaceHealth in Riverbend was issued a limited number of vaccines, but believes that they will help support Peace Harbor as soon as possible.  She says in order to bring down the infection rate people have to be willing to take the vaccine.

“We’re trying to get herd immunity throughout the population.  If enough people are willing to take the vaccine we can get her immunity and really bring down the infection rates.”

Mcarthur says it will likely be late spring/early summer before the general population will receive doses of the vaccine, but that will be dependent of how many more vaccines are approved and become available.

Record Setting Day for Deaths

Yesterday evening the Oregon Health Authority announced that there were 54 new deaths associated with the coronavirus.  That is the most for a one day total in Oregon.  Patrick Allen, director of the OHA says it is a grim reminder that the pandemic is far from over despite the introduction of a vaccine.  Allen says the rising case count from the end of November is one factor in yesterdays toll.  He says people need to remember to continue to practice social distancing and to please wear a face covering when outside of the home.  The OHA also reported 1,129 new cases with Lane County’s total consisting of 111 of those cases.  The state now has more than 96 thousand cases to date.  The death toll is at 1,214.

Police Arrest Suspects

The Florence Police Department continues to report on crimes that have been ongoing in the Florence area.  There have been several incidents of break-ins to motor vehicles and mail thefts. In the last two weeks Florence PD has arrested several people in conjunction with those breakins, the latest are Ricky McNicol of Eugene.  the 56 year old McNicol was seen in the vicinity of an audible car alarm and officers conducted a traffic stop as McNicol’s car was leaving the area.  McNicol, a felon, had drugs and was illegally in possession of a firearm.  Police also arrested 31 year old Richard Olivera, considered a transient.  He was wanted on a felony warrant.  Olivera was in possession of pieces of mail that were believed to be stolen from outside the city limits. Florence PD referred it to the Lane County Sheriff and the investigation is ongoing.  Commander John Pitcher says Florence officers did a very good job of identifying suspects and retrieving stolen property.  Florence police have made several arrests over the past 3 weeks.