OHSU data scientist: COVID wave ‘steepest increase we’ve ever seen’

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Delta variant spread 2-3 times faster, infects more people, scientists say

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Oregon is reaching levels of COVID cases and hospitalizations it’s never seen before, an Oregon Health & Science University data scientist said on Tuesday.

Lead data scientist Peter Graven, Ph.D., has been analyzing data since the beginning of the pandemic to help prepare OHSU for what to expect. His forecast released Tuesday shows a dramatic increase in cases.

Graven said this week’s forecast was “terrible, bad news.” He said we are in our 5th wave and seeing the steepest increase we’ve ever seen.

Oregon currently ranks 26th in the number of new cases per day. The rate of cases amongst
unvaccinated are 6 times higher.

Graven said that his census looks at the trend today, how many more people will get vaccinated, what is the current speed based on what they know about the delta variant and impacts of policy.

“We’re looking at a giant wave right now that’s all taking place over next 4 weeks,” Graven said.

About 500 more hospital beds would be needed by September 7, according to the forecast.

Senior vice president and chief medical officer Renee Edwards, M.D., M.B.A. said the situation is “frankly dire.”

“We’re in crisis,” she said.

“We are seeing a drastic increase in patients hospitalized due to COVID-19. Many of these patients are younger and sicker than previous surges that we’ve witnessed,” Edwards said.

That’s because the delta variant spreads 2-3 times faster even when people are vaccinated. So one infected person originally spread it to 3 other people. Now, health officials said, one person infects 8 others.

“We are on a trajectory that will overwhelm our hospital system and get a lot of people sick,” Edwards said. “Even if they’re not sick, they’ll become infected with COVID.”

If you are unvaccinated, health officials are asking you to stay home. Whether or not you’re vaccinated, they want you to wear a mask, physically distance and get together outside if you have to meet up with people.

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