COVID-19 Numbers Rise Statewide After 3 Weeks of Decline; Vaccine Implementation Improves Slightly; OSHA Investigates; Flu Numbers Still Microscopic; OPB Closes Branch For Deep Cleaning Day; Annexation Not To Affect Established Properties

COVID-19 Numbers Rise Statewide After 3 Weeks of Decline

After 3 weeks of decreases across the state the Oregon Health Authority is reporting a 17% increase in coronavirus cases for the  week ending January 3rd.  Hospitalization numbers as well as the percentage of positive tests were on the rise.  54% of the increases were in the 20 to 49 age group.  The rise in numbers was certainly reflected in the 97439 zip code with 40 cases reported in the last 2 weeks, bringing Florence’s total to 111 as of yesterday.  State health officials are concerned that the new strain, first recognized in the UK and then in Colorado, could skyrocket the numbers in the state where there have already been over 120 thousand cases since last March.   The OHA is encouraging individuals to stay safe and avoid places that do not work within the states guidelines for healthy practices.  It is believed that the new strain of COVID-19 could be as much as 4 times more contagious as the original.

Vaccine Implementation Improves Slightly

The state announced that it has more than doubled the number of vaccines administered, but still has a long way to go to reach the governor’s goal of 12,000 per day.  Over the last 2 days there were 6,432 doses given including 595 second doses.  There has been reports that the system for doling out doses has been ineffective and Oregon is working on expanding the list of those who can receive the vaccine to try and administer doses more quickly.  There have only been 61,671 doses out of 225,600 available administered.

OSHA Investigates

The Oregon Occupational Health and Safety administration has notified several restaurants in town that they were aware that the businesses are operating outside of the current restrictions in place.  OSHA is currently investigating at least one restaurant for violations, the Little Brown Hen on Highway 101.  Brown Hen owner Stacey Brown has been the most outspoken about her reopening, agreeing to an online interview with a podcast based out of Eugene.  there are at least two other restaurants in town that have received notifications from OSHA, but there has been not word on whether they are also being investigated.

Flu Numbers Still Microscopic

The Oregon Health Authority has issued it’s weekly report on the flu virus for the state.  Last week there were only 4 confirmed cases in the state.  The numbers are extremely low for this time of year and seem to be the result of the restriction in place to fight the coronavirus.  Jason Davis with Lane County Public Health says the practices in place are likely the reason for the low numbers.  LCPH and the OHA are still recommending that people get the flu vaccine, even though it has not been widespread this season.  Two of the cases reported were in southern Oregon and the other 2 in the Columbia gorge ares.

OPB Closes Branch For Deep Cleaning Day

Florence’s Branch of Oregon Pacific Bank notified media that it had to close its doors early yesterday due to a positive covid-19 case with one of their branch employees.  The bank closed at about 2:40 yesterday afternoon and will remain closed today in order to perform some deep cleaning before opening tomorrow.  President of Oregon Pacific Bank Ron Green said safety is the main concern.

“Our primary responsibility of course is to protect the safety of our employees and our customers and do apologize for the slight inconvenience that this may cause for some.”

Green said that online banking is open as well as night deposits and he expects the drive thru to reopen on Friday.

Annexation Not To Affect Established Properties

The City of Florence is in process of approving a plot of land for annexation.  The property is adjacent to Oceana Drive on the north side of town.  Signs have been posted along Heceta Beach Road that are against the annexation, but Wendy Farley-Campbell of the City’s planning department says that the land that is up for annexation does not affect other property owners in the area other than the designation of Oceana Drive as a right of way.  Farley-Campbell says it is not the city’s policy to annex property that does not willingly wish to be annexed.

“The City’s policy has been to only annex those who request and petition to be annexed, which we have had quite a few of in the last 10-12 years.”

The property which is located at the end of Ocean drive is just under 49 acres and touches the edge of Heceta Beach road is planned for development of housing and if approved the city will then be able to provide sewer and other services to the property.