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Jackson County reports 36 new COVID-19 cases

OHSU: Rapid drop-off in hospitalizations will continue

The Oregon Health Authority reported 36 new COVID-19 cases Thursday for Jackson County and one COVID-19-related death.

OHA reported 17 new cases in Josephine County and no deaths.

Statewide, OHA reported 696 new cases Thursday and 34 more COVID-19-related deaths.

Not all the deaths were recent from February and this month. OHA also reported deaths from August, October, November and December of 2021 and January of this year that were not previously counted in the state’s COVID-19-related death toll, which stood at 6,686 on Thursday.

The list included a 34-year-old man from Jackson County who died on Aug. 28, 2021 at his residence. He had underlying conditions, OHA said.

On Thursday, Jackson and Josephine county hospitals were caring for 49 patients with the virus, the same as the day before, according to state hospitalization data.

The number of Oregon hospital patients with the virus fell from 424 Wednesday to 404 Thursday, OHA reported.

The number of COVID-19 patients in Oregon hospitals is now similar to the count before the most recent surge triggered by the highly contagious omicron variant of the virus.

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state will continue its sharp descent as the virus finds an ever-dwindling pool of susceptible people, according to the latest forecast from Oregon Health & Science University.

The forecast released Thursday projects hospitalizations will fall to 300 by March 18.

“There aren’t enough susceptible people in Oregon right now to generate another surge in hospitalizations,” said Peter Graven, director of the OHSU Office of Advanced Analytics.

Graven expects hospitalizations to continue falling as the omicron variant finds fewer and fewer people who haven’t already been infected, vaccinated or both. Recent laboratory findings from OHSU found that the combination of vaccination and infection generates a form of “super-immunity” against subsequent exposures to the COVID-19 virus.

The new OHSU forecast estimates about 13% of Oregonians are still susceptible, either because they haven’t been recently infected or vaccinated, or because their previous immunity has waned.

Graven said that’s not enough to generate another hospitalization surge, unless a new variant emerges that breaks through immunity.

On Jan. 27, 1,130 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in Oregon in what turned out to be the peak of hospitalizations during the omicron surge. The omicron variant was first confirmed in Oregon Dec. 14, 2021, OHSU said.

The omicron peak fell just behind the pandemic high of 1,178 people hospitalized during the peak of the delta variant-driven wave Sept. 1, 2021, OHSU said.

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