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COVID-19 hospitalizations falling faster than expected

Jackson County reports 114 new COVID-19 cases Thursday

Oregon Health & Science University announced good news Thursday that the number of people hospitalized in Oregon with COVID-19 is falling faster than expected.

Numbers should recede to the level last seen before the current surge by March 20, according to the latest forecast from OHSU.

The new OHSU forecast shows that cases could fall to about 400 by March 20 — a week-and-a-half ahead of last week’s forecast.

“We have had a substantial drop in the number of hospitalized patients in Oregon over the past week or so,” said Peter Graven, director of the OHSU Office of Advanced Analytics. “This doesn’t mean that we’re out of the woods. The number of cases are still significantly higher than they have been for most of the pandemic, but the decline over the past week provides relief for hospitals operating under severe strain — and will benefit all Oregonians who need timely care in a hospital.”

Oregon is still experiencing large numbers of infections every day, and Graven noted that it will be important for people to stick with public health measures such as masking over the next few weeks.

He cited the example of Denmark, where the highly contagious omicron variant of COVID-19 arrived a month before it was confirmed in Oregon.

“They gave up on public health measures at what they thought was the peak — and it turned out not to be the peak and they had even more people hospitalized,” Graven said. “It’s instructive to recognize that Oregonians are doing the right thing, and it’s paying off. It will be important to keep it up if we’re going to have to a more manageable impact on our health system.”

Gov. Kate Brown announced last week that Oregon plans to let schools lift indoor mask mandates March 31. The state could lift indoor mask mandates in other workplaces earlier, depending on conditions.

On Thursday, the Oregon Health Authority reported 1,844 new COVID-19 cases across the state and 28 more COVID-19-related deaths.

Jackson County reported 114 new cases Thursday and four deaths. Josephine County reported 79 new cases and three deaths.

Information about those who died wasn’t immediately available.

COVID-19 hospitalizations have been falling recently in Oregon, but ticked up from 776 Wednesday to 788 Thursday.

Hospitalizations in the Rogue Valley have also been dropping, but edged up from 74 COVID-19 patients Wednesday to 76 Thursday. Several other regions of the state saw small increases Thursday, according to state hospitalization data.

Jackson and Josephine county hospitals had 46 open hospital beds Thursday.

The six-county Salem region (seven open beds) and the four-county Hood River region (five open beds) had virtually no available beds Thursday as hospitals cared for COVID-19 and non-COVID patients.

OHA announced it will continue to run its mass vaccination site at The Merrick, 200 N. Riverside, Medford. Hours for the indoor walk-in clinic are noon to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays.

COVID-19 testing is available at The Merrick from the Curative company from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Walk-up testing is available or appointments can be made in advance at curative.com.

Free at-home, rapid-result COVID-19 tests are available at a variety of locations in Jackson County, including libraries. For locations and hours, see www.mailtribune.com/top-stories/2022/02/11/free-covid-19-at-home-tests-available-throughout-county/.

For information on other COVID-19 vaccination sites in Jackson County, see jacksoncountyor.org/hhs/COVID-19/Vaccine-Appointments/where-to-get-vaccinated-in-jackson-county.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.