Oregon Hits New Record of COVID Cases For 4th Consecutive Day, More than Doubles Old Mark

Oregon hit a new record of COVID cases for the fourth consecutive day Thursday, more than doubling its old mark.

Health officials reported 7,615 new COVID cases Thursday. The state record before this week of 3,207 cases in a day was set in August.

Oregon averaged 4,001 COVID cases the past week. That figure is up 162 percent from just last Thursday. The infections are being driven by the Omicron variant, which is highly contagious, although less severe. Much of the spread occurred since Christmas.

Almost 25 percent of the state's reported COVID tests were positive on Thursday, as well.

Despite the record number of cases, Oregon reported some of the lowest rates of cases in the nation during the latest COVID surge.

Health officials in some of Oregon's largest counties, such as Multnomah, where Portland is, said the number of COVID cases and hospitalizations will probably continually increase over the next several weeks.

"I suspect all of us are going to feel the squeeze of Omicron spreading quickly through our communities and people calling out sick," Dr. Jennifer Vines, Multnomah County's health officer, said. "It's going to disrupt hospitals, childcare, businesses, and public services, as people stay home when they're sick."

Oregon, Record Daily COVID Cases, Omicron Surge
Almost 25 percent of Oregon's reported COVID tests were positive on Thursday. In this photo, a medical worker treats a non-COVID patient, who is just in a room besides rooms with COVID patients, in the ICU ward at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, Massachusetts on Jan. 4, 2022. Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

Hospitals for the first time also reported the biggest single-day uptick in weeks, with 588 people in care who tested positive, a 12 percent spike since Wednesday.

There currently are only 42 available adult intensive care unit beds and 95 percent of the state's staffed adult non-ICU beds are full.

"Unfortunately, after several weeks of hospitals slowly going down after the delta surge we're just starting to see or hear about an uptick in hospitalizations," Vines said. "It is cause for concern, given that our hospitals and health systems are already under intense strain."

In Multnomah County, Vines said EMS calls are up 40 percent over a usual average volume and at least one large Portland area emergency department — which was not identified by name — was "physically out of space" yesterday afternoon.

"Most of us I think are going to encounter Omicron and most of us will have mild or no symptoms," Vines said. "Some of us, relatively few of us, may get severe disease from Omicron. And the way the virus spreads — so quickly — means that it can very easily find the people who are going to be most at risk for severe disease."

Unlike past waves, the growth rate of cases has far outpaced COVID hospitalizations. However, local scientists estimate that roughly 1,650 coronavirus patients will be hospitalized statewide on the predicted peak in late January, which would surpass the Delta surge.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.