Recent COVID projections may shed light on the likely progression of the pandemic as Oregon moves towards winter amid the delta wave.
Those hoping for a quick resolution to the pandemic should prepare for a protracted winter wave, with new infection levels likely remaining close to where they are now through December, before increasing in January and February, according to projections from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. The institute is run out of the University of Washington, and has consistently provided some of the most accurate modeling available during the pandemic.
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In its predictions, the institute models a worse case scenario, a projected scenario based on current vaccination and mask trends, and one in which a 95% mask wearing rate is assumed. In the projected model, daily infections will likely rise from the roughly 2,000 estimated on Nov. 10 to about 2,400 by Jan. 22, and to more than 3,000 by Feb. 22.
While these levels aren’t as high as those seen in August and September, it still represents a higher rate of infections than was seen during the first half of 2021. In the masking scenario, cases begin to decline immediately and hover around 700 estimated cases through March 22.
In the worse case scenario, which assumes every vaccinated person stops using masks, mobility increases, and infections spread at twice the current rate, estimated daily infections would reach a peak of more than 15,000 cases in late December.
Public mask use is expected to plateau at roughly current rates of just under 60% through March 22. Mask use can reduce transmission by 30% or more, according to the institute’s metrics.
Vaccine coverage is expected to plateau as well, staying at roughly 72% through late March for those who have received at least one dose.
Daily deaths are expected to decrease through January before ticking back up through the end of March. While they’re not expected to reach peaks like those seen in September and October, they are projected to remain high and steadily drive the number of cumulative deaths up.
The number of all hospital beds needed to treat COVID patients is expected to increase beginning around Christmas and swell over the coming months, from roughly 480 in late December to more than 800 in late March. ICU bed usage by COVID patients is also expected to increase over the same period, but not as dramatically.