The Perfect Enemy | Coronavirus in Oregon: Hospitalizations climb rapidly as hospitals juggle multiple respiratory viruses
December 3, 2022
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COVID-19 hospitalizations climbed 35% last week to reach 311 hospital beds occupied by coronavirus patients, the most hospitalizations at a time since August.

The increase appears to buck the trajectory forecasted by Oregon Health & Science University, which most recently predicted hospitalizations would stay flat before declining slightly. Incorporating the new numbers into OHSU’s model still does not indicate a “large surge” is here, nor does the larger-than-anticipated growth appear to carry implications for waning immunity or transmissibility of new strains, analyst Peter Graven said in an email.

The Oregon Health Authority was not immediately available for comment.

Concerns about a fall surge of the coronavirus have to some extent been subsumed by concerns about RSV, another respiratory virus that is flooding pediatric hospitals with young patients in need of specialized care.

As of Wednesday, each of Oregon’s three hospitals with pediatric intensive care beds switched to “crisis standards of care,” allowing them to triage patients and loosen staffing standards to be able to care for more patients with fewer staff. That came more than a week after Gov. Kate Brown declared the influx of young respiratory virus patients an emergency.

RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, is a common respiratory virus that can be dangerous, particularly for young children and infants.

Even as COVID-19 hospitalizations grew substantially last week, cases hardly budged, climbing from a seven-day average of 479 new reported cases a day the previous week to 508 this week. Cases reported by the state are considered a substantial undercount, given at-home tests don’t need to be reported, and people might not be testing as much as they did in the past.

A more consistent measure of COVID-19 in a community — viral concentrations measured in wastewater — has shown sustained increase at multiple sites in Oregon, including Portland, McMinnville, Corvallis and Bend. Those results are about a week old.

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Since it began: Oregon has reported 920,718 confirmed or presumed infections and 8,824 deaths.

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Hospitalizations: 311 people with confirmed coronavirus infections are hospitalized, 81 since Wednesday, Nov. 16. That includes 45 people in intensive care, up 20 since Nov. 16.

New deaths: Since Nov. 16, the Oregon Health Authority has reported 37 additional deaths connected to COVID-19.

— Fedor Zarkhin

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