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Hospitals continue to experience severe strain as delta variant slowly abates

New forecast suggests vaccination among adults helps keep children safe
The OHSU sky tram can be seen with the city of Portland and mountains in the background.
Oregon hospitals, including OHSU, will remain under severe strain from the current surge in COVID-19 cases well into the fall, according to a new updated forecast from OHSU. (OHSU LIBRARY/Cyril "Kent" Anderson)

Oregon hospitals will continue to remain under severe strain from the current surge of COVID-19 cases well into the fall, according an updated forecast released today from Oregon Health & Science University.

The current surge, fueled by the highly contagious delta variant, is slowly beginning to abate as the virus finds fewer people who aren’t immune either through vaccination or recent infection. However, the new forecast indicates hospitalizations will remain at extremely high levels at least until Oct. 5 and will stay high well into December.

With Oregon schools back to in-person learning, the new report also provided a glimpse of cases among children. The report shows that Oregon has a relatively low number of children with COVID-19 compared with other states.

Photo of Peter Graven, Ph.D., at OHSU.
Peter Graven, Ph.D., (OHSU)

Peter Graven, Ph.D., lead data scientist in OHSU’s Business Intelligence unit, said his data suggest that children are protected when adults surrounding them are vaccinated. Children younger than 12 are not eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine outside of a clinical trial.

“We are seeing that one of the best ways to keep kids out of the hospital is to have high vaccination rates across the population,” Graven said.

The forecast shows the number of hospitalized COVID patients falling from 939 as of today, Sept. 23, in the Oregon Health Authority’s latest figures  to just below 600 hospitalized cases by Oct. 5. The highest previous peak in statewide hospitalizations was 584 during the winter surge in cases, before vaccines were widely available.

The forecast shows that hospitalizations won’t fall to the peak of the spring 2021 surge in cases – 351 hospitalized statewide – until Dec. 11.

Oregon hit a peak of 1,178 people hospitalized statewide on Sept. 1.

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