PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — New COVID-19 cases in Oregon have appeared to plateau as the state approaches the late-January peak health officials forecasted for the omicron variant.

The Oregon Health Authority said new COVID cases would likely see their peak by Jan. 28 in the state, followed by hospitalizations peaking in early February. Recent data suggests that the once-steep upward trajectory of cases fueled by the highly contagious variant now seems to be flattening.

Since Jan. 14, the total amount of COVID-19 cases reported in Oregon has dropped very slightly compared to the previous week. From Jan. 14 to Thursday, the state reported 55,254 new cases whereas case totals reached 55,585 for the week from Jan. 7 to 13.

DateNumber of Cases% of difference from previous week
January 14 – 2055,254-0.6%
January 7 -1355,585+96.5%
December 31 – January 628,059+106.7%
December 24 – 3010,764NA

The slight drop does not necessarily mean Oregon has already reached its peak, however new confirmed and presumptive cases in the metro area — Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties — have taken a definitive downward turn. From Jan. 14 to Thursday, the metro counties recorded 21,716 cases. In the week prior, the same counties logged 26,7473 new cases.

Multnomah-Washington-Clackamas counties new cases

January 14 -2021,716
January 7-1326,473
December 31 – January 614,172
December 24 -304785

According to OHA data, those same counties also saw the fastest rise in cases in the state, jumping from 4,785 new cases from Dec. 24 to Dec. 30, to 14,172 the following week and 26,472 the week after that.

The OHA also reported there are a total of 1,091 individuals in the hospital with COVID-19 as of Friday. For context, Oregon recorded its highest amount of hospitalizations with 1,178 on Sept. 1.

DateHospitalizations% change over previous week
January 20981+26.3%
January 13777+32.1%
January 6588+33.7%
December 30440NA

Also while hospitalizations are near record highs, ICU’s have not gone up as high in comparison. As of Thursday, we had 981 hospitalizations with 142 ICU’s. That’s a ratio of 6.91:1.

For comparison, that previous high on September 1 during the delta wave was 1,002 hospitalizations to 287 ICU’s for a ratio of 3.49:1. And the all time hospitalizations record of 1,178 had 358 ICU’s for a ratio of 3.29:1.

What all that means is the percentage of cases becoming hospitalizations is less than previous waves. And hospitalizations turning into ICU’s is less than previous waves. But because cases are up so much higher than any time before, that creates a larger pool where the lower percentages now are still making higher actual numbers.

Health officials said they will have to keep an eye on the trend but they also believe cases in the more rural parts of Oregon may climb higher — and hospitalizations will likely follow.

“We know that as cases spread in more rural areas of Oregon, these are populations that have lower vaccination rates,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger said. “Overall the average age is higher, with a chance of complications and hospitalizations is also higher and that will likely contribute to an increase in hospitalizations over the next week to week-and-a-half.”