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Oregon’s daily COVID case count soars near previous highs: 2,948 new cases

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Correction: The original headline and text of this story incorrectly stated that Thursday’s case count was a pandemic record.

The Oregon Health Authority on Thursday reported 2,948 new cases of coronavirus, fast approaching previous highs in the pandemic as a new wave of infections that public health officials say is being driven by the super-contagious omicron variant sweeps across the state.

The agency also reported 15 new deaths.

The 7-day daily average of new cases jumped to 1,532, and the test positivity rate hit 15.5%, triple the level two weeks prior and rivaling some of the highest levels seen during the pandemic. Oregon’s highest daily case count during the pandemic was 3,207 on Aug. 27.

To date, the state has only identified 24 cases of Omicron in its sequencing of virus specimens, but officials say that’s because of the small number of specimens being processed each week and delays in that sampling.

Omicron is generally thought to be a less lethal variant that causes milder infections. Public health officials say those who are fully vaccinated and boosted have strong protection against serious illness, yet are still susceptible to breakthrough cases. And they believe the coming tidal wave of omicron infections will cause severe cases, clog the already strained health care system and ultimately lead to more deaths.

Hospitalizations and deaths typically lag infections by a few weeks, and the most recent forecast from Peter Graven, lead data scientist at Oregon Health & Science University, predicts hospitalizations will spike in the weeks ahead, reaching 1,200 in early February – around the same peak Oregon saw last fall with the delta variant.

OHA also released new numbers Thursday on COVID-19 breakthrough cases. During the week ended Dec. 25, it reported 6,993 new cases, of which 4,426, or 63.3%, were unvaccinated people and 2,567 or 36.7% were vaccine breakthrough cases. To date, 4.3% of all vaccine breakthrough cases have been hospitalized and 1.2% have died. The average age of vaccinated people who died was 81.

OHA also said Thursday that it had ordered 6 million rapid COVID-19 antigen test kits, each of which contain two tests, that it will offer free to residents around the state so they can test at home. The kits will arrive in January and will be distributed to local public health agencies, schools, shelters and community organizations to give to local residents. The $60 million order will be paid through federal funding, and the order is separate from the 500 million tests that the Biden Administration has pledged to deliver to the public.

Where the new cases are by county: Baker (4), Benton (61), Clackamas (269), Clatsop (12), Columbia (15), Coos (39), Crook (26), Curry (11), Deschutes (286), Douglas (57), Gilliam (1), Grant (9), Harney (2), Hood River (19), Jackson (185), Jefferson (12), Josephine (48), Klamath (35), Lake (2), Lane (244), Lincoln (37), Linn (75), Malheur (24), Marion (148), Morrow (6), Multnomah (641), Polk (39), Sherman (3), Tillamook (15), Umatilla (121), Union (11), Wallowa (5), Wasco (10), Washington (418) and Yamhill (58).

Deaths: The age of those who died was between 48 and 97.

A 60-year-old Clackamas County man tested positive Sept. 7 and died Nov. 18 at Providence Portland Medical Center.

A 68-year-old Jackson County man tested positive Dec. 12 and died Dec. 28 at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center.

A 52-year-old Coos County man tested positive Nov. 26 and died Dec. 19 at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center.

A 93-year-old Clatsop County woman tested positive Dec. 20 and died Dec. 27. Place of death is being confirmed.

An 84-year-old Coos County woman tested positive Nov. 21. Date and of place of death are being confirmed.

A 48-year-old Clackamas County man tested positive Nov. 8 and died Dec. 26 at Kaiser Sunnyside Medical Center.

A 78-year-old Coos County woman tested positive Dec. 15 and died Dec. 24 at OHSU.

A 97-year-old Lane County woman tested positive Dec. 26 and died Dec. 27 at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend.

A 61-year-old Tillamook County man tested positive Dec. 29 and died Dec. 29. Place of death is being confirmed.

A 63-year-old Klamath County man tested positive Dec. 20 and died Dec. 28 at Sky Lakes Medical Center.

A 58-year-old Marion County man tested positive Nov. 27 and died Dec. 12. Place of death is being confirmed.

A 94-year-old Washington County woman tested positive Dec. 23 and died Dec. 28 at Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center.

A 62-year-old Washington County woman tested positive Dec. 1 and died Dec. 12 at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center.

A 74-year-old Union County man tested positive Dec. 12 and died Dec. 28 at Grande Ronde Hospital.

A 63-year-old Klamath County man tested positive Dec. 16 and died Dec. 29 at Providence Medford Medical Center.

Each individual who died had underling conditions or the presence of underlying conditions is being confirmed.

Hospitalizations: 440 people with confirmed cases of COVID-19 are hospitalized, 21 more than Wednesday. That number includes 93 in intensive care units, one more than Wednesday.

Vaccines: The state reported 3,844 people receiving first shots since Wednesday.

Since it began: Oregon has reported 421,263 confirmed or presumed infections and 5,655 deaths, among the lowest per capita numbers in the nation. To date, the state has reported 6,730,8760 vaccine doses administered, fully vaccinating 2,766,755 people and partially vaccinating 281,872 people.

To see more data and trends, visit https://projects.oregonlive.com/coronavirus/

— Ted Sickinger; tsickinger@oregonian.com; 503-221-8505; @tedsickinger

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