Hospitalizations rise as Oregon faces 4th COVID wave


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — It’s finally here. A fourth wave of COVID-19 infections has hit Oregon.

The Oregon Health authority reported 1,020 new COVID-19 cases Friday and nine new deaths. The state’s total case count is now at 179,120. The death toll is now at 2,476. With this new wave of infections these last two weeks, Oregon now leads the nation as having the biggest jump in cases, according to state health officials.

This is the first time Oregon has been over the 1,000 COVID-19 case count since mid-January.

On Friday, OHA released its latest COVID-19 forecast, which showed significantly higher transmission of the virus through early April. The model also projects cases and hospitalizations to continue to rise.

The virus’ current reproductive level is estimated to be at 1.24, which means that daily cases would rise to 960, with 38 new daily hospitalizations between April 28 and May 11. If transmission increases by 20%, new daily cases would rise to 1,610, with 66 additional hospitalizations per day.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown warned the state may have to shut down businesses again during a press conference Friday.

More than half of Oregon’s counties are labeled as high risk. Brown indicated she may move more counties into the extreme risk, leading to more business shutdowns.

Health leaders warn hospitals are filling up fast with COVID-19 patients.

“Over the past few weeks, we are caring for more patients with COVID in our ICUs that are sicker younger and without underlying medical conditions,” said OHSU Chief Medical Officer Dr. Renee Edwards.

Hospital officials told KOIN 6 News that they may pause elective surgeries. The tipping point will be when 300 ICU beds across the state are filled with COVID-19 patients. Right now, there are 283 COVID patients occupying those beds.

The good news: half the state’s adult population has received at least one does of the vaccine. But supply of doses are still not meeting demand, especially in the Portland metro area.

While thousands of Oregonians are getting vaccinated daily, it will still be months before everyone who wants a shot will get one, health officials said.

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