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Updated projection continues to show unabated surge of COVID-19 in Oregon

Health care leaders call on Oregonians to take steps to conserve hospital capacity for all people who need timely medical care
COVID-19 patient on a hospital bed being gently turned over by 4 health care workers.
Intensive care units continue to fill with COVID-19 patients statewide, shown here as health care workers rotate a critically ill COVID-19 patient at OHSU Hospital. A new forecast from OHSU shows the current surge of hospitalizations due to the highly contagious delta variant will continue for at least another week. (OHSU/Erin Hoover-Barnett)

An updated forecast from Oregon Health & Science University continues to reveal a dire situation in Oregon, which is already experiencing an unprecedented surge in hospitalizations statewide due to COVID-19.

Close-in portrait of Peter Graven, Ph.D., a smiling adult
Peter Graven, Ph.D.

“We’re seeing the number of people hospitalized going up at rates we’ve never seen before,” said Peter Graven, Ph.D., lead data scientist in OHSU’s Business Intelligence unit. “We had hoped to see the new statewide masking mandate make a difference in flattening the rate of infection, but we’re not seeing that yet.”

Graven’s new update projects a total of 1,197 people hospitalized statewide with COVID-19 as of Sept. 6, up from the 1,085 people hospitalized as of today. Graven said his data shows Oregonians are responding to the surge in infections due to the highly contagious delta variant with improved rates of masking, reported upticks in vaccinations and indications of limited gatherings, but not yet at rates that demonstrably slow the spread of severe illness.

Hospitals are under severe strain, with 45% of intensive care units now occupied by COVID-19 patients statewide.

Hospital leaders in Oregon are appealing to the public to take steps now to reduce the spread of infection and reduce critical overcrowding in hospitals across the state: Get vaccinated, wear a mask and maintain physical distancing.

close-in head shot of Renee Edwards, M.D., M.B.A, a smiling adult with chin-length hair
Renee Edwards, M.D., M.B.A., chief medical officer of OHSU Healthcare. (OHSU/Fritz Liedtke) 

“I’ve been a physician for more than 30 years – over 20 of those at OHSU – and never before have I experienced the level of crisis that we find ourselves in now,” said Renee Edwards, M.D., M.B.A., chief medical officer for OHSU, one of two level 1 trauma centers in Oregon. “In addition to the enormous surge in COVID patients, we also continue to see a large volume of severely ill patients who don’t have COVID-19, including those who delayed care during the past year due to the pandemic.”

Addressing Oregonians, she said, “We are in a crisis and we desperately need your help. If we all do our part now, it will make a difference: every mask, every vaccine, every attempt to limit gatherings is important at this time.”

Two leaders at OHSU Hospital and OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital also appealed to Oregonians’ community spirit in an op-ed published in The Oregonian on Wednesday, Aug. 25. They noted that patients young and old are waiting hours, and sometimes days, for hospital beds as health care workers administer medical care in waiting rooms, conference rooms and hallways.

“If Oregonians do not take immediate action to reverse the increase in COVID-19 cases in our state, the consequences will be even more catastrophic than they are already,” wrote Dana Braner, M.D., physician-in-chief, OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital; and Matthias Merkel, M.D., Ph.D., senior associate chief medical officer, Capacity Management and Patient Flow, OHSU Health.

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