BA.2 likely contributing to Oregon’s slight rise in COVID-19 cases

Oregon’s COVID-19 cases have recently increased slightly, likely due to BA.2, the omicron subvariant that has been surging through the northeastern U.S.

 

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As of Tuesday, the state’s seven-day moving average of new and presumptive COVID-19 cases was at nearly 394. That number was up from 326 cases on April 8. The state had a seven-day moving average of 280 new and presumptive cases on April 1.

State Health Officer and Epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger said multiple factors have affected Oregon’s increased case rate.

“BA.2 is likely contributing to the slight rise in reported case counts, because it is more transmissible than previous variants,” Sidelinger said. “Other states that have had a higher proportion of BA.2 earlier than Oregon, such as those in the northeast, saw an increase in case counts. It has been about four weeks since the removal of mask requirements, and some of the rise in case counts could be due to reduced mask use, as well as other factors [of] gathering indoors, and returning to pre-pandemic social activities.”

The number of cases reported to public health officials has likely decreased due to the use of home tests, so the number of cases is likely higher than Oregon Health Authority’s (OHA) reported numbers, Sidelinger said.

“Based on a recent publication from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the estimated infections are about 14 times higher than the reported cases,” Sidelinger said. “We urge people to continue to assess their own levels of risk, wear masks, and avoid crowded settings where appropriate.”

OHA reported that 96 COVID-19-positive patients were hospitalized Tuesday, with 15 of those patients in ICU beds.

“The number of Oregonians hospitalized with COVID-19 illness continues to be near levels we saw last summer, before the delta surge that arrived in August 2021,” Sidelinger said. “[On Tuesday], 96 were hospitalized, compared to the more than 1,100 [people] hospitalized in January 2022 during the peak of the omicron surge.”

OHA stopped distributing daily media releases about COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths on April 4. Daily information about new COVID-19 cases, current hospitalizations of COVID-19-positive patients and deaths, along with other COVID-19 data, is available daily on the OHA website, data dashboards, and social media platforms.

Despite the recent rise in cases, Sidelinger said preventative public actions have stopped that number from being higher than it is.

“Thanks to Oregonians’ consistent actions wearing masks, getting vaccinated and boosted, and staying home when sick, Oregon collectively has blunted what could have been worse outcomes seen in other states in terms of those sickened and hospitalized,” Sidelinger said.