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Oregon COVID hospitalizations expected to continue rising

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) - Oregon hospitals are near their breaking point as the state is expected to reach peak hospitalizations in coming weeks, according to health officials.

On Friday, the Oregon Health Authority held a press conference where state health officer and state epidemiologist, Dr. Dean Sidelinger spoke on omicron's impact on Oregon.

As hospitalizations spike, Sidelinger says the state could eclipse the pandemic high. On Thursday, OHA reported the highest daily total of COVID-positive patients in Oregon hospitals during the omicron surge.

"But, we may be seeing a light - a slight slowing of omicron's momentum," said Sidelinger. "Due to the recent modeling, statewide daily cases appear to have crested the pandemic highs offering a glimpse of hope, in an otherwise bleak pandemic landscape."

Earlier this week, OHA reported the state had surpassed 6,000 COVID-19 deaths.

On Friday, OHA added 19 newly-reported deaths - raising the state's COVID-19-related death toll to 6,086.

Meanwhile, there were 47,361 new COVID cases reported between January 17 and January 23. OHA said this was a 9.5% decrease from last week's pandemic high.

OHA also reported 7,222 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-10 cases on Friday. This brings the state's total case count to 620,652.

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"We saw a massive number of cases occur as we came up the peak, and we're going to see that same massive number of cases occur as we go down the peak," said Sidelinger.

Across the state, there are 1,125 people hospitalized with COVID-19 and 176 COVID patients in intensive care unit beds, OHA announced on Friday.

In terms of hospital capacity, OHA reported 51 available adult ICU beds out of 651 and 240 adult non-ICU beds available out of 4,185.

Health officials predict it will take several weeks for hospitalizations to peak and then come down to a level that no longer overwhelms hospitals. While hospitalizations rise, officials say the number of COVID cases are plateauing.

It is expected to happen much sooner than the delta surge. Sidelinger attributes this to omicron-positive patients requiring a shorter stay in hospitals and less critical care.

According to Sidelinger, the state will not reach endemic levels until “it's not causing massive surges to interrupt day-to-day lives. Unfortunately, we're not there yet with omicron in Oregon - or most other states across the county. ”

Additionally, OHA is submitting extensions to the Oregon Secretary of State for indoor masking rules, and requiring healthcare and school workers to be vaccinated. Along with that, more COVID-fighting rules could soon be submitted alongside those extended rules.

This comes as many doctors are growing concerned about people delaying getting a COVID booster shot amid surging infection rates and hospitalizations time. Health officials say nearly 75% of Oregon adults are fully vaccinated, however, less than half have received their booster shot.

To meet Governor Brown's goal of having one million Oregonians boosted by the end of January, 513,732 people would need to get the additional dose.

The seven-day running average for COVID-19 vaccines in the state is now 10,802 doses per day.

In Friday's report, OHA also noted that 3,122,175 people have had at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. Meanwhile, 2,822,255 people have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series.

Confirmed and presumptive cases by county

Baker (32), Benton (172), Clackamas (584), Clatsop (50), Columbia (110), Coos (115), Crook (62), Curry (39), Deschutes (401), Douglas (191), Gilliam (3), Grant (15), Harney (27), Hood River (37), Jackson (359), Jefferson (35), Josephine (128), Klamath (191), Lake (6), Lane (734) , Lincoln (88), Linn (331), Malheur (92), Marion (809), Morrow (15), Multnomah (927), Polk (164), Sherman (1), Tillamook (28), Umatilla (162) , Union (76), Wallowa (8), Wasco (85), Washington (938), Yamhill (207).

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