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Nov. 11 forecast: COVID-19 hospitalizations in Oregon will remain stubbornly high

Oregonians tire of measures to limit transmission of virus
Light glows against a dark autumn night at the OHSU campus on Marquam Hill in Portland on Tues., Nov. 9, 2021. (OHSU/Christine Torres Hicks)
While weather is cooling and people are likely to gather, health experts do not expect a serious spike in hospitalizations in the next few months. (OHSU/Christine Torres Hicks)

The number of Oregonians hospitalized with COVID-19 has reached a plateau that will stay above 400 through the holidays before it drops demonstrably in the new year, according to the latest updated statewide forecast from Oregon Health & Science University.

The latest forecast shows that hospitalizations won’t drop below 200 until the beginning of February – about a month longer than last week’s forecast.

The updated forecast reflects survey data revealing that Oregonians are tiring of measures to reduce transmission, such as gathering indoors with people who don’t live in their households. The highly contagious delta variant continues to find a substantial pool of Oregonians – an estimated one in five – who aren’t yet immune through vaccination or recent infection.

Although hospitalizations will remain stubbornly high for the next several weeks, the latest projection does not anticipate an increase.

Peter Graven, Ph.D., (OHSU), a man with light hair and skin, smiling.
Peter Graven, Ph.D. (OHSU)

“At this time a year ago, we were going straight up,” said Peter Graven, Ph.D., director of the OHSU Office of Advanced Analytics.

Even though the weather is cooling and people are due to gather with families and friends for Thanksgiving and other holidays, Graven said the data suggest there simply won’t be enough susceptible Oregonians left to drive another spike in hospitalizations in the next few months.

“There are more and more infections occurring and immunity is building up,” he said. “As that happens, it becomes harder and harder to generate a surge in hospitalizations. And I’m not seeing any data that tell me we’re going to get a surge driven by breakthrough infections.”

As of Thursday, Nov. 11, a total of 509 Oregonians remained hospitalized with COVID-19, according to the latest figures provided by the Oregon Health Authority. That’s down from the pandemic’s peak high of 1,178 Oregonians hospitalized on Sept. 1.

As of Nov. 8, COVID-19 cases accounted for a total of 22% of the state’s intensive care units – a slight increase from 18% the week before.

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