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Coronavirus in Oregon: 8,207 cases, as state surpasses more than 6,000 deaths

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The Oregon Health Authority reported 8,207 new known cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, roughly on par with daily averages that have hovered just below the 8,000-case mark for the past nearly two weeks.

Officials say the state’s test positivity rate, which registered at 24.9% Wednesday, also continues to be high – at or near record levels. That means roughly one in four Oregonians tested for the virus is positive, and the state is still struggling to offer enough testing to meet demand.

State epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger also announced a “heartbreaking” milestone: 6,000 deaths related to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

“We’ve lost mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers. Co-workers and neighbors. These losses pain all of us,” Sidelinger said, in a news release. “What makes these losses more painful is that nearly all our most recent deaths could have been prevented by COVID-19 vaccines, which remain the best protection against serious illness and death.”

Wednesday’s numbers included two promising data points.

Hospitalizations increased only slightly, rising to 1,061 people hospitalized with positive coronavirus tests. Hospitalizations had been forecast to peak next Tuesday, at 1,553 – but it’s unclear if that high will be reached based on a slow-down in hospitalizations in the past week.

State officials on Wednesday also reported another drop in the share of patients arriving at emergency departments with COVID-like-illness. Rates have declined slightly for five consecutive days, although one in 10 people are presenting with related symptoms.

Meanwhile, the Oregon Health Authority announced that its director, Patrick Allen, had returned to his Sherwood home the previous evening after a three-day hospital stay. Allen, 59, was admitted to the hospital early Sunday morning after taking a serious fall and experiencing heart problems. According to an agency news release, Allen said he is “looking forward to returning to work” at a date that hasn’t yet been determined. The agency’s deputy director, Kris Kautz, is overseeing the agency’s operations until Allen returns.

Where the cases where by county: Baker (45), Benton (289), Clackamas (551), Clatsop (46), Columbia (92), Coos (158), Crook (110), Curry (33), Deschutes (541), Douglas (188), Gilliam (2), Grant (41), Harney (9), Hood River (51), Jackson (558), Jefferson (104), Josephine (224), Klamath (155), Lake (20), Lane (692), Lincoln (69), Linn (398), Malheur (78), Marion (910), Morrow (55), Multnomah (931), Polk (238), Sherman (6), Tillamook (48), Umatilla (198), Union (55), Wallowa (26), Wasco (82), Washington (911), Wheeler (14) and Yamhill (279).

Deaths: The state reported 54 new COVID-19 deaths, but it didn’t share any details about ages, locations or dates for the people who died. State reports on deaths often lag by days or weeks. The previous day officials reported 41 deaths and only about half of those occurred within the past two weeks.

Hospitalizations: 1,061 people with confirmed cases of COVID-19 are hospitalized across the state, up four from Tuesday. That includes 155 patients in intensive care, an increase of three from the previous day.

Vaccines: 2,453 people have been reported as newly vaccinated since Tuesday.

Since it began: Oregon has reported 605,363 confirmed or presumed infections and 6,048 deaths, among the lowest per capita numbers in the nation. To date, the state has reported 7,141,597 vaccine doses administered, fully vaccinating 2,818,413 people and partially vaccinating 299,253.

— Aimee Green; agreen@oregonian.com; @o_aimee

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COVID-19 Booster Shots Can Wait

Vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 are proving quite safe and highly effective in the prevention of COVID-19, especially severe and/or fatal disease.

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