Variants grow in Oregon, breakthrough case numbers released

Coronavirus

Variants growing in Oregon, breakthrough cases a very small proportion

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — “Variants” and “breakthroughs” are new terms in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Both demand attention.

The Oregon Health Authority is now posting the number of COVID cases caused by variants of the novel coronavirus on their website. The most recent numbers show almost 300 cases in Oregon are caused by variants of concern, and most are cases of B-149, a variant that emerged in California in February.

Scientists said the worry is the variants can spread more easily and can make unvaccinated people more sick. Researchers say the public needs to pay attention as the cases are growing.

Illustration of changing genetic structure to new strain. (Getty Images)

“It matters to know about them even if they are rare in this state because when these viruses appear in our state, we can still stop their ongoing transmission and prevent them spreading if we continue to practice measures to control these viruses,” said Dr. William Messer, an infectious disease specialist at OHSU.

That means keep wearing masks and maintaining social distancing.

The data posted on the OHA website is weeks after people get the variants — which then have to be identified. The sense is the numbers of those infected with variants are actually larger.

Breakthrough cases

Through April 2, OHA said they identified 168 breakthrough cases — that is, when people who are vaccinated get COVID-19. Of those cases, 3 people died.

The cases have been reported in 25 of Oregon’s 36 counties.

OHA officials said these breakthrough cases are “a very small proportion of the more than 700,000 people in Oregon who have been fully vaccinated” in the state.

Many of the case were asymptomatic and were tested for other reasons. Less than two dozen of the breakthrough cases were hospitalized and most were in people older than 65 who had underlying conditions.

None of the breakthrough cases were associated with a variant, OHA officials said.

State and local health officials are working with the CDC on the entire issue of breakthrough cases.

Thursday report

Another 678 new confirmed/presumptive cases of COVID-19 were reported Thursday in 31 of Oregon’s 36 counties. Since the pandemic began, Oregon has recorded 168,795 cases.

Five more people died, bringing the number of people who died from the coronavirus since tracking began in March 2020 to 2,439.

Oregon’s 2,435th COVID-19 death was a 75-year-old man in Baker County with underlying conditions. He tested positive on March 24 and died on April 3 at his home.

Oregon’s 2,436th COVID-19 death is a 66-year-old man in Jackson County who had underlying conditions. He tested positive on March 13 and died on April 5 at Providence Medford Medical Center.

Oregon’s 2,437th COVID-19 death is a 64-year-old man in Jackson County who had underlying conditions. He tested positive on March 16 and died on April 6 at Providence Medford Medical Center.

Oregon’s 2,438th COVID-19 death is a 94-year-old man in Washington County who tested positive on Feb. 24 and died on March 4. His location of death and the presence of underlying conditions are being confirmed.

Oregon’s 2,439th COVID-19 death is a 79-year-old man in Polk County who tested positive on April 1 and died on April 6 at Salem Hospital. The presence of underlying conditions is being confirmed.

Hospitalizations are down slightly, with 168 people in a hospital for treatment and 38 in the ICU.

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