The latest data on the delta variant of COVID-19 and its predicted impact on Oregon is dire. By Labor Day, OHSU predicts that the state will be short 400-500 needed staffed hospital beds. This means that some Oregonians will not be able to get hospital care for COVID-19 or any other condition.
Cases are rapidly rising and the current forecast predicts that Oregon will have more than 1,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients by Labor Day. This is the worst-case scenario that Oregonians worked so hard to avoid in March 2020.
It’s a shocking number, and one that was repeatedly checked against other available data and the effects of the current surge observed in other states. Oregon is in a difficult position because we have the fewest number of available hospital beds per capita than anywhere else in the United States. Oregon hospitals are also simultaneously experiencing severe staff burn out and workforce shortages.
Therefore, unless Oregonians take immediate action, there will not be an available hospital bed for many patients who need it for COVID-19 or other urgent issues like heart attacks, trauma accidents and strokes.
Getting vaccinated is the single best thing to do to prevent severe illness from COVID-19. Although the vaccine is very effective against severe cases of COVID-19, we are beginning to see increasing numbers of breakthrough infections with the delta variant. This means that even some people who have been fully vaccinated can still become infected and spread the virus to others, including those who are unvaccinated like children under 12 and those with compromised immune systems.
To limit your risk of getting the highly contagious COVID-19 delta variant and spreading the disease to your friends and neighbors, OHSU experts ask that unvaccinated adults stay at home and limit community interactions as much as possible.
Additionally, both vaccinated and unvaccinated people who need to interact with the community should follow at least two of these three precautions:
- Wear your mask indoors in all public spaces or with people outside of your household; Wear your mask outdoors where physical distancing is not possible.
- Limit gatherings and if you do gather, do it outside.
- Physically distance whenever possible.
Additionally, OHSU is asking Oregonians to minimize their activities to decrease the need for hospital or emergency room care for accidents or other injuries.
Oregonians have “flattened the curve” before and this is exactly what we need to do again as we face this rising surge of the COVID-19 delta variant. Vaccination is the backbone of protection and prevention. However, because the delta variant is highly contagious, we need to also practice the principles of masking and physical distancing that have previously been successful with other variants.
OHSU is the state’s academic health center and serves as a critical access point for all Oregonians needing complex treatments and we are asking Oregonians to take action so that we can serve as many patients as possible. Your choices will make a difference in how many Oregonians will get the care they need.