The Oregon Health Authority reported 217 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday and no new deaths, with the state registering rising cases, test positivity rates and hospitalizations over the past week.
The significance of those weekly increases is not yet clear, as they could be a momentary blip or an indicator of growing spread as more contagious variants of the virus circulate.
Oregon in the past week has averaged 351 cases a day, up 28% since last Monday. The share of positive tests is also climbing, reaching 3.8%. And active hospitalizations have hit 142, a 22% increase.
Gov. Kate Brown and the Oregon Health Authority are monitoring the COVID-19 case rates, hospitalizations, positivity ratings and deaths, a spokesperson for Brown said.
The “recent increases are concerning, which is why it remains incredibly important for Oregonians to continue wearing masks, maintain physical distance, avoid large gatherings, and get vaccinated when it is their turn,” Liz Merah said in an emailed response to questions from The Oregonian/OregonLive.
Case, test positivity and hospitalizations metrics remain substantially below winter highs, however, and more than one-quarter of Oregonians have now received at least one dose of vaccine. Deaths remain a fraction of the records set in the winter.
But state and federal officials have warned of the potential of increased spread with eased restrictions and spring travel. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Monday she had a sense of “impending doom” over the potential of a fourth coronavirus wave.
Asked about the increases in local metrics, Rudy Owens, a spokesperson for the Oregon Health Authority, said in an email: “Any jump in rates such as an increase in the number of Oregonians hospitalized because of COVID-19 would be a concern, because hospitalizations tend to be a lagging indicator of the spread of the virus and its impacts in our communities.”
State officials plan to use their existing framework, which tracks county-level cases per capita and positivity rates, for renewing any restrictions.
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden on Monday announced that 90% of American adults will be eligible for a vaccine by April 19.
Oregon does not plan to open access to everyone 16 and older until May 1, and Biden’s announcement did not prompt any change to the timeline.
“As we have over the last few weeks, we will continue to monitor developments regarding increases in vaccine supplies, so we can be prepared to adjust Oregon’s timelines accordingly,” Charles Boyle, a different spokesperson for Brown, said in an email.
“Oregon’s prioritization schedule is designed to ensure equity in distribution when vaccine supplies are scarce –– when we reach the point that vaccines can be supplied to anyone who wants one, we can accelerate that schedule while increasing our targeted efforts with community partners to reach the communities that have been hardest hit by COVID-19: Oregon’s Black, Indigenous, Latino, Latina, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, Tribal, and communities of color.”
Vaccines: Oregon reported 18,191 newly administered doses, which includes 10,067 Sunday and the remainder from previous days.
Where the new cases are by county: Baker (3), Benton (9), Clackamas (30), Clatsop (4), Columbia (3), Coos (7), Deschutes (14), Douglas (12), Harney (2), Jackson (10), Josephine (7), Lake (1), Lane (19), Lincoln (6), Linn (16), Marion (19), Multnomah (34), Polk (6), Tillamook (3), Union (5) and Yamhill (7).
Who died: State authorities reported no new deaths Monday.
Hospitalizations: 142 people with confirmed cases of COVID-19 are hospitalized, including 36 in intensive care.
Since it began: Oregon has reported 164,164 confirmed or presumed infections and 2,375 deaths, among the lowest per capita numbers in the nation. To date, the state has reported 1,735,635 vaccine doses administered.
To see more coronavirus data and trends, visit projects.oregonlive.com/coronavirus/
-- Jaimie Ding
[email protected]; 503-221-4395; @j_dingdingding