PORTLAND, Ore. — For the first time since April, the Oregon Health Authority reported more than 1,000 coronavirus cases in its daily tally, which state officials attributed to the increasing spread of the Delta variant across the state.
“Today’s reported sharp rise in confirmed and presumptive cases and in hospitalizations in Oregon are sobering reminders that the pandemic is not over, especially for Oregonians who remain unvaccinated,” said Dr. Dean Sidelinger, state epidemiologist and health officer.
OHA reported 1,032 new confirmed or presumptive cases as of Tuesday morning. The high count was accompanied by a sharp rise in hospitalizations from the virus, both generally and for intensive care unit beds. The state also reported five more deaths attributed to the virus, including a 90-year-old Josephine County man who passed away at Asante Three Rivers Medical Center on July 25.
“The highly contagious Delta variant has increased tenfold in the past two weeks in Oregon, and it is now estimated to be associated with 80% of the new cases in Oregon," Sidelinger continued. "OHA continues to encourage all Oregonians who are eligible to make a plan to get vaccinated as soon as possible. We are also reviewing updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to assess opportunities for alignment in Oregon based on the increased cases and hospitalizations we are facing here in Oregon.”
The sudden resurgence of COVID-19 has not been limited to Oregon. The CDC on Tuesday updated its mask guidance, urging everyone — even those vaccinated against the virus — to resume wearing masks indoors in areas with substantial or high transmission of COVID-19, which currently applies to almost two-thirds of US counties.
In a statement to NewsWatch 12, the OHA said that it is reviewing the updated CDC guidance to "assess opportunities for alignment in Oregon based on the increased cases and hospitalizations we are facing here in our state." The agency said that it continues to urge all eligible Oregonians to make a plan for getting vaccinated.
According to OHA data, about 58 percent of all Oregonians have received at least one dose of a vaccine. When looking expressly at Oregonians 18 or older, 68.5 percent have received at least one dose.
Broadly speaking, vaccination rates are highest in the northwestern areas of Oregon, particularly in the greater Portland, Bend, Salem, and Eugene areas. They are lowest in the eastern Oregon counties, with the absolute lowest vaccination rate in the state falling to rural Lake County.
While southwest Oregon can boast higher vaccination rates than the eastern Oregon counties, there are problems unique to the region when it comes to battling COVID-19. Due to its relatively high population and low vaccination rate, Jackson County has the farthest to go in the state in order to reach 80 percent of adults with the vaccine. In order to hit that goal, more than 45,000 people in Jackson County would need to receive their first dose.