PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are starting to slowly decline in Oregon from the record-shattering numbers set amid the delta variant over the summer, but health officials say the majority of hospitalizations are still of unvaccinated Oregonians.
The slow but steady decline of cases and hospitalizations can be traced to more adult vaccinations, wearing masks and “reconsidering plans that put us or others at higher risk,” Oregon Health Authority’s State Epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger said during the press conference Thursday morning.
Data indicates the stabilizing numbers came after a peak around the beginning of September, with a gradual decline over the next several weeks, according to Sidelinger.
However, the delta variant’s surge and impact aren’t over, Sidelinger warned, with the state still seeing more than 1,000 virus-related hospitalizations each day.
“These capacity levels are not sustainable,” he said. “Our health system remains under significant stress.”
Thursday’s press conference came a day after OHA reported 46 new COVID-19-related deaths in the state, raising Oregon’s death toll to 3,536; meanwhile, health officials reported 2,069 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID, bringing the state total to 305,560.
However, there were 1,067 COVID hospitalizations in Oregon, which was 15 fewer than the previous day, and 294 patients in ICU beds, which was an increase of six. As of Wednesday, there were 50 available adult ICU beds out of 653 total (8% availability) and 325 available adult non-ICU beds out of 4,312 (8% availability).
The spike in COVID cases from the delta variant is not only packing hospitals, it’s having a ripple effect on other emergency responders.
Ambulances have to wait longer to drop off patients because beds aren’t always available. Officials with AMR told KOIN 6 News ambulance services nationwide are feeling the effects of overwhelmed hospitals and the same is true here in Oregon.
In a statement, AMR officials said: “Because hospitals are receiving an unprecedented number of patients, ambulance crews must often wait with their patient until a hospital bed becomes available. Ambulance crews encounter such wait times multiple times every day.”
And while ambulances are tied up at hospitals waiting for beds to become available they can’t respond to other 911 calls.
Although COVID case numbers have dropped slightly — officials say projections show hospitals won’t see the impact of that for months. Health leaders maintain that if you want to help health care workers who are exhausted and just trying to survive, the best thing to do is to get vaccinated.