Correction: The original heading and text of this story incorrectly stated that Thursday’s case number was a pandemic record.
The Oregon Health Department reported 2,948 new cases of coronavirus Thursday, rapidly approaching previous pandemic highs as a new wave of infections health officials say is fueled by the super-contagious variant of omicron 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 positive rate hit 15.5%, tripling the level two weeks earlier, and hitting some of the highest levels during the pandemic. Oregon’s highest daily number of cases during the pandemic was 3,207 on August 27.
To date, the state has identified only 24 cases of Omicron in virus sample sequencing, but officials say this is due to the small number of samples processed each week and delays in that sampling.
It is widely believed that Omicron is a less deadly variety that causes milder infections. Public health officials say those who are fully vaccinated and boosted have strong protection from serious illness, but are still vulnerable to breakthrough cases. And they believe the coming tidal wave of Omicron infections will cause severe cases, clog the already strained healthcare system, and ultimately lead to more deaths.
Hospital admissions and deaths typically delay infections by a few weeks, and the latest forecast from Peter Graven, senior data scientist at Oregon Health & Science University, predicts hospital admissions will spike in the coming weeks, reaching 1,200 in early February – roughly that same high seen in Oregon last fall with the Delta variant.
OHA also released new numbers on groundbreaking cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. In the week ended December 25, 6,993 new cases were reported, of which 4,426 or 63.3% were unvaccinated and 2,567 or 36.7% were breakthrough vaccine cases. To date, 4.3% of all vaccine breakthrough cases have been hospitalized and 1.2% have died. The mean age of those vaccinated who died was 81 years.
OHA also announced Thursday that it has ordered 6 million COVID-19 rapid antigen test kits, each containing two tests, which it will be making free to residents across the state for home testing. The kits will arrive in January and will be distributed to local health authorities, schools, shelters and community organizations for distribution to local residents. The $ 60 million order is paid for with federal funds, and the order is separate from the 500 million tests that the Biden government has promised 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) und Yamhill (58).
Deaths: The age of the deceased ranged from 48 to 97 years.
A 60-year-old man from Clackamas County tested positive on September 7 and died on November 18 at Providence Portland Medical Center.
A 68-year-old man from Jackson County tested positive on December 12 and died on December 28 at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center.
A 52-year-old man from Coos County tested positive on November 26 and died on December 19 at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center.
A 93-year-old woman from Clatsop County tested positive on December 20 and died on December 27. The place of death is confirmed.
An 84-year-old woman from Coos County tested positive on November 21. The date and place of death are confirmed.
A 48-year-old man from Clackamas County tested positive on November 8 and died on December 26 at Kaiser Sunnyside Medical Center.
A 78-year-old woman from Coos County tested positive on December 15 and died at OHSU on December 24.
A 97-year-old woman from Lane County tested positive on December 26th and died on December 27th at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center in RiverBend.
A 61-year-old man from Tillamook County tested positive on December 29 and died on December 29. The place of death is confirmed.
A 63-year-old man from Klamath County tested positive on December 20 and died on December 28 at Sky Lakes Medical Center.
A 58-year-old man from Marion County tested positive on November 27 and died on December 12. The place of death is confirmed.
A 94-year-old Washington County woman tested positive on December 23 and died on December 28 at Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center.
A 62-year-old Washington County woman tested positive on December 1 and died on December 12 at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center.
A 74-year-old Union County man tested positive on December 12 and died on December 28 at Grande Ronde Hospital.
A 63-year-old man from Klamath County tested positive on December 16 and died on December 29 at Providence Medford Medical Center.
Every deceased person had underlying illnesses or the presence of underlying illnesses is confirmed.
Hospital stays: 440 people with confirmed cases of COVID-19 will be hospitalized, 21 more than on Wednesday. 93 of them are in intensive care units, one more than on Wednesday.
Vaccinations: The state reported that 3,844 people had received initial shots since Wednesday.
Since the beginning: Oregon has reported 421,263 confirmed or suspected infections and 5,655 deaths, which is among the lowest per capita figures in the country. To this day the state is has reported 6,730,8760 doses of vaccine administered, 2,766,755 people fully vaccinated and 281,872 people partially vaccinated.
More data and trends can be found at https://projects.oregonlive.com/coronavirus/
–Ted Sickinger; [email protected]; 503-221-8505; @tedsickinger