Town Hall 1/25; Omicron, Tests, and Boosters

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Representative Julie Fahey

Hello Friends,

Later this month, I will be hosting a pre-session town hall with my colleagues Sen. James Manning, Jr. and Rep. Nancy Nathanson—I hope you can join us! We will be gathering on Zoom on Tuesday, January 25, at 7 p.m. Please RSVP here so that we can send you the Zoom link before the event.

Town Hall Horizontal Graphic - Jan 2022

We’ll be giving a preview of the 2022 session, discussing our priorities for the year, and holding an open, respectful discussion for everyone to join. Please bring your questions, thoughts, and suggestions for what we should be working on this year.

COVID-19 Update

The Omicron variant has begun spreading quickly in Oregon, and it is already putting strain on our public services and health care system. The number of cases has skyrocketed this month, with over three times as many cases reported in the last week than the previous weekly high in September 2021.

But the number I’m watching most closely is how many people are hospitalized with COVID-19. Last September during the Delta variant wave, we saw a peak of almost 1,200 hospitalizations, which stretched our hospitals to the breaking point. The most recent modeling from Oregon Health and Sciences University (OHSU) forecasts a peak of about 1,650 people hospitalized by the end of January, which is significantly higher than the Delta peak. Hospitalizations have more than doubled in the last three weeks, with 777 people hospitalized as of yesterday. This surge in hospitalizations affects COVID and non-COVID patients alike, with the possibility of non-urgent surgeries being delayed and rationing of care.

Hospitalization Graphic

Source: Coronavirus at a glance, The Oregonian

Governor Brown announced this week that the state will begin deploying National Guard members to provide logistical support to hospitals around the state. In the meantime, we can all take steps to limit our own risk and less the impact on our health care system – getting vaccinated and boosted, wearing masks, testing and staying home if you have any symptoms, and avoiding larger gatherings.

Getting a test. With how quickly Omicron is spreading, there has been an increased demand for testing over the last few weeks. This infographic from the CDC is a helpful summary of when it’s a good idea to get tested and what your options are.

It can be stressful to navigate finding a test when you’re concerned about an exposure or experiencing symptoms, but there are options in our area.

  • UO’s free testing program has appointments for asymptomatic individuals, and now has some testing availability for people with symptoms as well. I’ve been grateful for this resource and have used it throughout the pandemic
  • The Lane County COVID testing website has information about regular free testing clinics put on by the County and its partners, including some locations that accept walk-ins.
  • Many pharmacies offer free testing appointments, though these appointments fill up fast.
  • At-home rapid tests can be purchased at pharmacies and online, for about $20-$24 for two tests. Up to eight tests per month will be reimbursable by most insurance providers, starting January 15th. These have been harder to find locally in the last few weeks, but I’ve seen some sporadic availability at Wal-Mart and at some pharmacies. A Portland software developer also created this website to track availability of at-home tests on various online sites.
  • If you are experiencing symptoms or have had a known COVID exposure, your health care provider or an urgent care clinic (like Nova Health or ZoomCare) can also offer testing. Clinics and medical offices will sometimes require you to book an appointment with a provider before getting tested.

To prepare for the need during the Omicron wave, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has ordered over 12 million tests. Those tests will be sent to hospitals, settings with vulnerable populations, and schools.

Boosters for everyone 12+. Getting a booster shot is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself from serious illness during the Omicron surge. Recently, there have been a couple updates about booster eligibility:

  • Kids ages 12–15 are now eligible for booster shots
  • People who received Pfizer or Moderna as their initial doses now only have to wait five months to receive a booster.
Booster Infographic

If you need your booster shot or another dose of the vaccines, there are several options in Lane County. There is a walk-in clinic at the PeaceHealth Annex Clinic in Springfield Tuesdays through Sundays 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. You can also go to or call 541-682-1380 to schedule an appointment at the Lane Events Center and other community locations (new appointments open every Friday). In addition, many local pharmacies are also providing shots – you can locate vaccines statewide at

Walk-in Graphic

Good News – Taxpayer Advocate Edition

Last session, I introduced and passed HB 3373, which created the Taxpayer Advocate Office in the Oregon Department of Revenue. This office will act as a resource for Oregonians who are dealing with state taxes – who are looking for information, need help with a tax issue, or want to file a complaint about how their case is being handled. The office will also act as an advocate within the agency, representing taxpayers' interests in policy decisions and looking for opportunities to make our tax collection system fairer and easier to use.

Codi Trudell Image

Codi Trudell

The Department of Revenue has announced that the office is now up and running, with Codi Trudell hired as the new Taxpayer Advocate. Over the years, my office has worked with several constituents who were frustrated by their difficulties navigating the tax collection system. I believe this new office will be an important resource for Oregonians going forward. Here is more information about the Taxpayer Advocate and how to get in touch.

Yours truly,

Fahey signature

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1414
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, H-286, Salem, Oregon 97301