‘Really difficult to be on front lines’ as COVID cases surge


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Hospital beds are filling up across Oregon as more COVID-19 patients arrive at emergency departments.

The Oregon Health Authority said there were 496 people with COVID in hospitals on Friday, which was an increase of 39 from Thursday. There were 135 patients in ICU beds.

“There’s a lot of concerns about capacity right now,” said Dave Northfield with the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems. “The delta variant is raging in Oregon and it’s especially concerning for parts of the state where there are low vaccination rates.”

Northfield said the number of hospitalized patients is higher now than it was when Governor Kate Brown put restrictions in place.

“If you look back to the end of April when the governor instituted restrictions in most counties, the trigger for that was rising hospitalizations. Her trigger point at that point was 300 — we are now at 457,” he said.

Meanwhile, hospital workers are trying to cope with the surge in patients once again.

“It is really, really difficult to be on the front lines,” said Northfield. “We have people in the hospital who are younger, who are sicker — it’s really heartbreaking especially when the frontline workers see these hospitalizations and deaths as preventable.”

The current surge in COVID hospitalizations could impact people seeking treatment for non-coronavirus medical issues.

“When we have a capacity crunch, one of the biggest concerns is that if you are in a rural area — especially that’s smaller, that may be full — critical care might not be available if the hospital is full of COVID patients,” said Northfield.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintain that the best way to prevent death or severe illness from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated.

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