PORTLAND, OR -- Public health officials around Oregon continue to grapple with a rising number of flu and RSV cases. Influenza activity in the state is now considered very high by the CDC.
Multnomah County Deputy Public Health Director Chantell Reed believes a return to voluntary masking could help, "It is very difficult to pinpoint and say, ‘yes, if you do this, this is the absolute science on preventative care.’ But, there are some measures that you can take to put in place, in order to make sure that you can keep your family members and those around you as safe as possible," She told Multnomah County Commissioners at a recent meeting, "Everyone ages six-months and older, we cannot say enough, please get a flu shot."
Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines knows asking people to again mask up is not a popular suggestion. "People are tired," Dr. Vines told Commissioners at the same meeting, "We’ve had a bit of a reprieve from COVID and other respiratory illnesses, but that has not lasted. We flagged that this was going to be a difficult respiratory season and it is, for a lot of reasons."
Hospitals around the state are strained from the triple threat of RSV, influenza and COVID. Dr. Vines says taking preventative measures is critical, "We’ve also learned the hard way that keeping schools open is really, really important for the health of our young people, and especially for an equity approach. So, all of this demands that we take a prevention stance." In addition to masking, she urges COVID boosters and flu shots for those who are eligible. Also, don’t touch your face and sanitize surfaces and hands where RSV and the flu virus can survive.