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Oregon hospitals remain under severe strain from COVID-19

Sept. 16 forecast reveals Oregonians are backing off measures to prevent the spread of the virus
Tired-looking health care worker in a face mask touches her beeper on her hip
It's overwhelming, and it just keeps happening, and there is no end in sight, said Emily Williams, R.N., B.S.N., on the Medical Intensive Care Unit that has been seeing new COVID-19 patients nearly every day. (OHSU/Erin Hoover Barnett)

Oregon hospitals remain under severe strain from the current surge of COVID-19 patients, and an updated forecast released today by Oregon Health & Science University continues to show only a slow decline in hospitalizations.

Despite the dire situation, the latest OHSU forecast shows some signs that Oregonians are beginning to ease off measures to reduce the spread of the virus. Masking dropped slightly to 82% from the previous week, and Oregon residents appeared slightly more willing to congregate in large groups in indoor public spaces such as bars, restaurants and grocery stores.

It’s especially important for Oregonians to remain vigilant to reduce extreme demand on hospitals.

Head shot of Peter Graven, Ph.D., a pale, smiling adult
Peter Graven, Ph.D.

“Every transmission right now is adding patients to hospitals that don’t have room for any of them,” said Peter Graven, Ph.D., lead data scientist in OHSU’s Business Intelligence unit. “Even mild reductions in actions like masking can contribute to increased spread of the virus, especially among people who are still unvaccinated and haven’t yet been infected.”

Almost half of the statewide intensive care unit capacity is now filled with COVID-19 cases.

Even though hospitalizations slowly began tapering off since the peak of 1,178 hospitalized patients statewide on Sept. 1, the new forecast shows that deaths – which lag infections by an average of 21 days – are now at their highest levels of the surge at an average of 23 per day in Oregon. Graven’s forecast indicates deaths are likely peaking right now and will begin to decrease soon.

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