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Coronavirus Watch: Though COVID-19 cases continued to drop last week, deaths rose

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PORTLAND, Ore. — For the second week in a row, Oregon saw declining COVID-19 cases and new hospitalizations — further indication that the Delta variant-fueled surge is gradually subsiding. However, fatal outcomes from the virus actually increased.

The Oregon Health Authority published its weekly report on Wednesday, noting that the state saw 11,655 cases during the week that began Monday, September 13 and ended Sunday, September 19. That represents a 10 percent decrease in cases from the previous week.

There were 140,538 tests for COVID-19 for the week of September 12 through September 18. The percentage of positive tests was 10.5%, down from 12% the previous week and the lowest level of test positivity in six weeks, OHA said.

New hospitalizations for COVID-19 dropped slightly to 579 last week from 592 the week prior.

As of Wednesday morning, there were 939 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 across the state and 270 patients in intensive care unit beds. Capacity remains an issue, with only 6 percent of adult ICU beds available statewide, and 7 percent of non-ICU beds.

Deaths, on the other hand, rose last week over the week prior. There were 148 reported COVID-19 related deaths last week, up from 120 reported the previous week.

Due to a combination of the relative timelines and a slight lag in reporting, it's fairly typical that deaths lag behind cases and hospitalizations. As the surge grew throughout the month of August, deaths were the last metric to begin showing significant increase. Patients with severe cases of COVID-19 can often die several weeks after testing positive, though it can also happen in a matter of days.

The OHA noted that there 187 active COVID-19 outbreaks in senior living communities and other congregate living settings. An outbreak consists of three or more confirmed cases and one or more COVID-19 related deaths.