Kraken COVID variant spreading

The Kraken variant of COVID, XBB 1.5, which caused only 1% of COVID cases Dec. 1, 2021, has become the dominant strain in the United States.

By Dec. 31, according to Bloomberg News it was the cause of 41% of all COVID infections nationwide, more than 70% in the Northeastern United States. Only 29 countries have reported cases of it, but health authorities warn that it could become more widespread because of a drop-off in testing.

According to Center for Disease Control statistics, 72.2% of Marion County residents 18 and older have had at least one dose of a vaccine. Those in the county awaiting their first doses number 1,544, and and those who are eligible for a booster but not have received it number 150,610.

The Oregon Health Authority has issued guidelines for people testing positive for the disease. Anyone testing positive, OHA says, should be quarantined for at least five days, staying isolated until symptoms improve, with no fever for 24 hours since taking medication.

During isolation, OHA says, help should be available for food, medicine delivery, financial matters, isolation from family, unemployment and sick leave resources, and mental health support.

Information on services is available by calling 211, OHA says. Anyone who tests positive should call his or her healthcare provider.

The employer of a person testing positive should be notified immediately. Oregon law provides sick time for all employees, full-time and part-time, if the business has 10 or more employees, six or more in Portland.

Anyone quarantined should get vaccinated, OHA adds, but wait until the end of the isolation period. Information is available at

Free testing in Marion County is available by calling 503-588-5342.