PORTLAND, Ore. — The Oregon Health Authority released its latest weekly breakthrough report on Thursday, showing that the vast majority of COVID-19 cases in the state are still among those who have not been vaccinated.
According to the new report, 81.3% of cases reported between September 1 and 15 occurred in people who were unvaccinated, representing 14,046 cases. There were 2,632 breakthrough cases, accounting for the remaining 18.7%.
COVID-19 hospitalizations at Asante have been declining. Please continue to take precautions to slow the spread. Vaccines help prevent hospitalizations and deaths.— Asante (@AsanteHS) September 16, 2021
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The average age of the breakthrough cases during that period was 48. Ninety breakthrough cases involved residents of care facilities, senior living communities or other congregate care settings. There were 68 breakthrough cases in people between the ages of 12 and 17.
Breakthrough cases as a share of total cases have fluctuated somewhat over time. They were slightly lower in mid-August, accounting for 18.1% of cases. They were actually higher in July, at 20.5% of cases. They peaked briefly in early September, with 20.9% of cases.
Since vaccinations for COVID-19 began in Oregon, there have been 19,549 known breakthrough cases. The average age for all cases was also 48, and such cases have been identified in all 36 counties.
"Cases of COVID-19 are far more common in unvaccinated people," OHA said. "The report shows that the rate of COVID-19 in unvaccinated people is currently approximately five times higher than in vaccinated people."
To date, 4.7% of all vaccine breakthrough cases have been hospitalized and 0.9% have died. The average age of those who died was 81.
While the OHA does not publicly compile the share of vaccinated compared to unvaccinated hospitalizations and deaths, some hospital systems and public health agencies in Oregon have provided that information on a semi-regular basis — with data supporting the OHA's assertion that serious cases of COVID-19 in particular are far more common among the unvaccinated.
Asante reported Thursday that 90% of their 123 COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated, as are 90% of the 39 patients in intensive care. All 20 of their current patients on ventilators were unvaccinated, and 84% of deaths at Asante within the last 90 days were unvaccinated.
"Vaccination remains the most effective tool to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The number of vaccine breakthrough cases identified in Oregon remains very small when compared to the more than 2.7 million Oregonians who have completed their COVID-19 vaccination series," OHA continued.
Overall COVID-19 cases, new hospitalizations, and deaths declined last week for the first time in weeks — the first sign that the Delta variant surge is beginning to subside in Oregon. Active hospitalizations are declining only gradually. While the number of new hospitalizations saw a significant drop last week, there are many people who remain hospitalized from previous weeks.
As of Thursday, there were 1,027 people hospitalized for COVID-19 across the state, 40 fewer than on Wednesday. There were 286 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, eight fewer than Wednesday.
OHA reported 2,242 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, in addition to 11 new deaths attributed to the virus. Most of the deaths came from Jackson County, which saw seven fatalities. The youngest was a 38-year-old man who died September 5 at his home. His death certificate listed COVID-19 disease or SARS-CoV-2 as a cause of death or a significant condition contributing to death, and he had underlying conditions.
Another death, a 44-year-old man who was previously reported as a Klamath County resident, was updated to reflect that he was actually from Jackson County.