Decision On School Masking; County COVID Cases; State COVID Numbers; Gas Prices

Decision On School Masking

Parents and Students will not have to wait until March 9th for a decision on mask wearing in Siuslaw Schools.  Siuslaw Superintendent Andy Grzeskowiak released a letter to families, students and staff.  Beginning on March 12th the student body and staff will no longer be required to wear masks in the general school setting.  Another change that was not originally calculated was the wearing of masks on school transportation.  Due to some federal regulations it was originally thought that masks would still have to be worn on buses, but that is now not the case.  The school board meeting on March 9th will likely go over the implementation of the new rules set down by the Oregon Department of Education.  In addition students and staff that have been exposed to a positive case will no longer be required to quarantine if they are asymptomatic.  Those with symptoms or a positive test will require isolation for at least 5 days with a recommendation that they wear masks 5 days after the isolation.  Contact tracing will also be eliminated.  Grzeskowiak also pointed out that some students and staff may continue to wear masks as a personal choice and he says bullying of such persons will not be tolerated nor will the decision not to wear a mask.  Some parents were concerned that the school might opt to keep mask mandates in place after the ODE had expressed that school districts would have some leeway in implementing the new rules.

County COVID Cases

COVID-19 Cases across the county continue to go down with only 61 cases reported yesterday for the area.  Cases in Florence only grew by one yesterday (1481).  Daily cases per 100,000 has dropped below 90 at 89.4 bringing the 7 day running average to 113.5.  the daily rate is lower than it has been since before December 7th.  Hospitalization rates are still steady for the county with 52 bed being used by COVID-19 patients.  That number has been fairly steady for the past week.

State COVID Numbers

The Oregon Health Authority reported 696 new COVID-19 cases yesterday with 34 new deaths.  Hospitalizations also decreased by 20 bringing the total to 404.  Governor Kate Brown used the number of 400 to calculate when the time would be right to drop the mask mandate across the state, a number that is lining up with the coming lift.  One of the numbers that has been quietly rising over the past several weeks is the number of breakthrough cases.  There were 2,950 cases last week 47.1% of all cases were in unvaccinated individuals.  Of those 2,950 1,119 were in individuals that were fully vaccinated and boosted.

Gas Prices

Gas prices continue to climb.  The price of a regular gallon of gas in Florence rose 13 cents at one outlet yesterday.  Fred Meyer price went from $3.93 to $4.06.  Safeway also rose to $4.06 a gallon.  Prices are currently being driven by the high price of crude oil due to the restrictions put on Russia as part of sanctions due to the invasion of Ukraine.