PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon Health Authority (OHA) reported 2,387 presumptive and new COVID-19 cases in its daily update on Thursday, the highest number of cases the state has seen in one day since the beginning of the pandemic. It narrowly beat out Tuesday's numbers, which had been the previous record.
The total number of recorded infections since the beginning of the pandemic has risen to 236,698. With nine deaths reported Thursday, the state's death toll has climbed to 2,928.
The state has once again set a new grim record in the number of patients hospitalized. This is the third day in a row that Oregon has surpassed its own hospitalization records. On Wednesday, the record was 665 patients in the hospital with 172 of those patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds.
Officials said on Thursday there were 670 patients in the hospital with 177 of them in ICU beds. This comes two days after health officials warned of full hospitals across the state and begged Oregonians to wear masks, social distance and limit unnecessary social gatherings as the delta variant ravages the state, bringing infection and hospitalization numbers that surpass even the peak of COVID-19 in 2020.
Officials from a number of different offices said that hospitals are already at capacity and will be facing a peak that will likely happen in early September that could, in the worst-case scenario, call for 500 more beds in Oregon hospitals – beds that the hospitals do not have.
“Our hospitals are full,” said David Zonies, associate chief medical officer and professor of surgery at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). “Patients are boarding and being cared for in emergency departments when they should be admitted to hospital beds. Our ICUs are full. Our doctors and nurses are exhausted and rightfully frustrated because this crisis is avoidable. It is like watching a train wreck coming and knowing that there’s an opportunity to switch tracks, yet we feel helpless while we watch unnecessary loss of life. That is why it is essential that we all do our part to get vaccinated and wear a mask indoors.”
In Jackson and Josephine counties, in particular, the situation is dire. On Thursday, officials from those counties held a press conference where health care workers said they were struggling with the number of COVID patients they are seeing. Jackson County has requested more hospital staff, ventilators and a field hospital.
RELATED: 'This is not what we were hoping for': Jackson and Josephine counties request field hospital as COVID hospitalizations rise in Oregon
Dr. Grant Niskanen, vice president of medical affairs at Sky Lakes Medical Center in Klamath Falls said he is seeing younger and sicker patients.
“We had one person a couple weeks ago that got a lung transplant,” said Niskanen. “We have a second person that now is being evaluated for a lung transplant, and when I talk about the patients — like nine or 10 that are currently in our hospital, that's for an acute infection — that's not talking about the four or five that have been here for 20 plus days who are no longer infected but still need such amounts of high flow oxygen that we're unable to send them home.”
Like many other health officials, Niskanen said getting vaccinated is the best option to slow the spread of the virus.
“If we all were vaccinated, this would shut down the spread of the virus and shut down the mutations and the variants that are occurring. We’re talking about lives here. I can't emphasize enough the importance of the vaccinations.
“As a physician, what we really do is just support you. As a patient told me yesterday, (who's on oxygen) — they said, ‘Can you give me something to make me feel better?’ Well, no we're just supporting you at this point and trying to help you breathe as best as possible. It's a very frustrating illness for both physicians and nurses to care for and to watch these people go on and get progressively sick.”
Almost all the patients he treats for COVID-19 ask him later if they can get the vaccine once they’re sick in the hospital.
“By the time you’re in the hospital and critically ill, no, it doesn’t work like that. And all of them say, ‘If I had known about this and how I felt and the effect on my family, I would have gotten the vaccine.’“
Oregon has now administered 2,708,131 doses of Pfizer, 1,803,388 doses of Moderna and 187,629 doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.
As of Thursday, 2,536,877 people have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 2,342,257 people have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series.
Cases and deaths
The cases reported on Thursday were found in the following counties:
Baker (6), Benton (21), Clackamas (198), Clatsop (35), Columbia (62), Coos (55), Crook (10), Curry (25), Deschutes (108), Douglas (137), Harney (3), Hood River (11), Jackson (416), Jefferson (20), Josephine (133), Klamath (15), Lake (1), Lane (210), Lincoln (31), Linn (32), Malheur (5), Marion (148), Morrow (14), Multnomah (210), Polk (42), Tillamook (27), Umatilla (121), Union (22), Wallowa (7), Wasco (25), Washington (189) and Yamhill (48).
Note: Oregon’s 1,640th and 2,078th COVID-19 associated deaths, reported on Jan. 12 and Feb. 12 respectively, are the same person. Because of this error, we are renumbering our reported deaths starting with 2,920 today.
Oregon’s 2,920th COVID-19 associated death was a 47-year-old woman from Josephine County who tested positive on Aug. 9 and died on Aug. 10 at Asante Three River Medical Center. The presence of underlying conditions is being confirmed.
Oregon’s 2,921st COVID-19 associated death was a 66-year-old man from Columbia County who tested positive on Aug. 9 and died on Aug. 10 at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center. The presence of underlying conditions is being confirmed.
Oregon’s 2,922nd COVID-19 associated death was a 70-year-old man from Columbia County who tested positive on July 13 and died on Aug. 2 at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center. The presence of underlying conditions is being confirmed.
Oregon’s 2,923rd COVID-19 associated death was a 35-year-old woman from Morrow County who tested positive on Aug. 10 and died on Aug. 9 at her residence. The presence of underlying conditions is being confirmed.
Oregon’s 2,924th COVID-19 associated death was a 101-year-old woman from Wasco County who tested positive on Aug. 2 and died on Aug. 9 at her residence. She had underlying conditions.
Oregon’s 2,925th COVID-19 associated death was an 83-year-old woman from Wasco County who tested positive on July 29 and died on Aug. 11 at her residence. She had underlying conditions.
Oregon’s 2,926th COVID-19 associated death was a 19-year-old woman from Union County who tested positive on July 27 and died on Aug. 10 at Providence Portland Medical Center. She had underlying conditions.
Oregon’s 2,927th COVID-19 associated death was a 75-year-old man from Polk County who tested positive on Aug. 5 and died on Aug. 10 at Salem Hospital. Presence of underlying conditions is being confirmed.
Oregon’s 2,928th COVID-19 associated death was a 90-year-old man from Polk County who tested positive on Aug. 1 and died on Aug. 10 at Salem Hospital. Presence of underlying conditions is being confirmed.
For more information on COVID-19 in Oregon, visit OHA’s dashboards.