PORTLAND, Ore. — As daily COVID-19 cases doubled in the past week, Oregon health officials reported Thursday that the delta variant has become the dominant variant in the state.
The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has tracked nearly 3,000 cases "involving variants of concern." The OHA said sequenced cases of the delta variant have increased from 30% to 50% in the most recent week, which is a tenfold increase over the past two weeks.
During a press conference on Thursday, State Health Officer Dr. Dean Sidelinger warned the spread of the delta variant poses a risk for unvaccinated people.
"The emergence of this highly contagious variant should be a red alert to those who remain unvaccinated," said Sidelinger. "You are at higher risk now than you were earlier in the pandemic and you are putting the people around you at risk."
Last month, more than nine out of 10 people who tested positive for COVID-19 or were hospitalized or died from the virus were unvaccinated, according to the OHA.
“Oregon is open, but the pandemic is not over…especially for people who remain unvaccinated,” said Patrick Allen, the director of the state health authority.
In Oregon, more than 70% of adults have been fully or partially vaccinated. But in one-third of Oregon's counties — many rural — less than 50% of the adult population is vaccinated, according to the OHA. In rural Umatilla County, 43% of residents are partially or fully vaccinated. The county's coronavirus-test positivity rate is over 14.2%. That's in contrast to Washington County, where 75.1% of residents are vaccinated and the coronavirus-test positivity rate is 4.1%
“My message today is to people who have not yet been vaccinated, you are in harm’s way,” said Sidelinger."