PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Cases of COVID-19 continue to increase in Oregon as most of the state’s population remains unvaccinated and experts say the spike is partly due to coronavirus variants.
On Wednesday, the Oregon Health Authority reported 989 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 in 31 Oregon counties, representing the highest single-day total since January 16. The OHA also reported six new COVID-related deaths, raising the state’s death toll to 2,466.
For the fourth week in a row, the number of cases and hospitalizations have outpaced the previous week, according to the OHA. The week of April 12-18 saw a 27% increase in new cases from the previous week. The percentage of positive tests was 5.3%.
Scientists say coronavirus variants spread faster and can cause more serious illness in those who are infected. Oregon reported nearly 700 cases of COVID-19 from variants of concern just two weeks ago.
Dr. Ken Stedman, a biology professor at Portland State University, said getting a COVID vaccine can help curb the spread of variants. He said, “All of the vaccines protect against all the variants and do a pretty good job.”
Patrick Allen with the Oregon Health Authority said 37% of Oregonians had received at least one vaccine dose by Wednesday and at least 75% of people 70 and older are vaccinated. Oregon is averaging 33,933 new vaccine doses a day and has administered 1,369,371 doses of Pfizer, 1,153,611 doses of Moderna and 90,301 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccines. To date, 1,065,266 people have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series.
But despite more people getting vaccinated, case rates continue to climb as Oregonians get together to enjoy the nice weather and shirk health safety guidelines. Health experts say people must complete a COVID vaccine series to have at least 90% protection from the virus so skipping the second dose isn’t a good idea. Allen said the state hopes to achieve a 70-80% vaccination rate.
Some health officials are also concerned Oregon won’t reach herd immunity as many people hesitate to get a shot for various reasons. Stedman said more people are filling up Oregon hospitals as the fast-spreading variants move through communities.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown has warned businesses will be shut down again if hospitals become inundated with patients. There were 272 people with COVID-19 being treated at Oregon hospitals on Wednesday, including 65 people in ICU beds.
The 989 new cases reported on Wednesday include the following counties: Baker (6), Benton (24), Clackamas (61), Clatsop (7), Columbia (7), Coos (2), Crook (4), Curry (5), Deschutes (99), Douglas (7), Grant (10), Harney (2), Hood River (5), Jackson (93), Jefferson (3), Josephine (23), Klamath (34), Lake (3), Lane (82), Linn (33), Malheur (3), Marion (114), Morrow (3), Multnomah (167), Polk (20), Tillamook (5), Umatilla (16), Wallowa (1), Wasco (3), Washington (134) and Yamhill (13).
The six new deaths include the following:
- An 82-year-old man from Douglas County who tested positive on April 16 and died on April 13 at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center. He had underlying conditions.
- A 90-year-old man from Benton County who tested positive on April 16 and died on April 19 at his residence. He had underlying conditions.
- A 67-year-old man from Jackson County who tested positive on March 29 and died on April 18 at Asante Ashland Community Hospital. He had underlying conditions.
- A 42-year-old man from Jackson County who tested positive on March 25 and died on April 18 at Asante Rogue Valley Medical Center. He had underlying conditions.
- A 48-year-old man from Multnomah County who tested positive on March 28 and died on April 16 at Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center. He had no underlying conditions.
- A 56-year-old man from Multnomah County who tested positive on April 1 and died on April 16 at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center. He had underlying conditions.