PORTLAND, Ore. — The Oregon Health Authority reported a record-breaking number of daily COVID-19 cases on Thursday, as both cases and hospitalizations continue their inexorable rise throughout the state. The agency recorded 2,387 new cases, the highest daily count since the pandemic began.
While case counts are high in a number of Oregon counties, Jackson County's daily total of 416 easily led the state. Multnomah and Lane counties each reported 210 cases.
OHA also reported nine new deaths attributed to the virus, bringing the death toll to 2,928 since the pandemic began. One of the deaths was a 47-year-old Josephine County woman who passed away at Asante Three River Medical Center on August 10.
The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon was 670, five more than the day prior. There were 177 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, also five more than on Wednesday.
“Our hospitals are full. Patients are boarding and being cared for in emergency departments when they should be admitted to hospital beds. Our ICUs are full," said Dr. David Zonies, associate chief medical officer and professor of surgery at OHSU. "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.”
Dr. Grant Niskanen, Vice President of Medical Affairs at Sky Lakes Medical Center in Klamath Falls, recently spoke with the Oregon Health Authority about what he is seeing in his hospital:
“We had one person a couple weeks ago that got a lung transplant ... 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.”
Dr. Niskanen says the key to combating the virus is to get vaccinated.
“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," Dr. Niskanen said. "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.”
Dr. Niskanen said that almost all the patients he treats with 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.’“