Current projections predict a significant spike in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations driven by the omicron variant beginning mid-January and likely peaking in February, according to a statement from doctors representing all of Portland’s major medical facilities.
Although the omicron variant of COVID currently circulating in the public may cause a less severe illness, it is significantly more transmissible, the medical professionals say.
The spike in hospitalizations is projected to two to three times a September peak driven by the delta variant of COVID– from a high of 1,200 patients in hospitals in September to 2,000 to 3,000 hospitalizations from omicron.
“It is not too late to take action. Please do what you can to keep yourself, your family, your co-workers and your community safe. We are asking everyone to please get fully vaccinated, including a booster if eligible, wear masks, and avoid large indoor gatherings this holiday season,” a statement signed on by doctors from Kaiser Permanente, Legacy Health, OHSU, PeaceHealth and Providence said.
“We know our dedicated teams will once again do all they can to care for patients,” the doctors said. “But, after nearly two years of fighting this pandemic our nurses and doctors are exhausted. Clinical staff and hospital beds are in short supply in all of our hospitals. A significant increase in COVID-19 infection and hospitalizations in Oregon and Southwest Washington will create delays in emergency department care for some patients and additional delays for surgeries, due to the lack of an available staffed bed.”
Officials said the omicron variant has been infecting some people who are already vaccinated. But the good news is people who are fully vaccinated and received a booster shot are less likely to be infected and much less likely to have a severe illness and hospitalization.
“Again, if you haven’t been vaccinated and/or boosted, please do so now,” the health officials said. “Each illness we prevent or reduce frees up health care resources for a loved one, friend or neighbor in need.”
For more information and where to find a vaccination site, go to getvaccinated.oregon.gov.