There were more than 10,000 new COVID-19 cases reported in Oregon on Friday, the fifth straight record daily high, and Lincoln County saw a 400 percent increase in new cases last week.

In an email accompanying Lincoln County Public Health’s daily COVID update, Public Information Officer Susan Trachsel said the department’s staff is “flooded with cases.” There were about 70 cases a day the previous two days and 206 for the month just one week into January, half the total cases documented for the previous month.

The county has also seen the beginning of a rise in hospitalizations after a weeks-long lull, with three inpatients between the two hospitals as of Friday, two in intensive care.

The rise in cases is attributed to the Omicron variant of the virus, which is believed to be more infectious while resulting in a lower percentage of hospitalizations than Delta. However, the surge is forecast to be so widespread that it pushes peak COVID hospitalizations above Delta’s high of just under 1,200 in September 2020. The latest modeling from Oregon Health and Science University predicts a peak of 1,650 hospitalizations just from Omicron by Jan. 27, the same number forecast the previous week.

The Oregon Health Authority reported Monday there were 692 COVID-positive people hospitalized, up from 588 on Jan. 6, which itself constituted a 68 percent increase from two weeks prior.

The surge is overwhelming public health resources in the Portland metro area, according to the Oregon Capital Chronicle, such that “those who test positive for COVID-19 will get their test results, but they are unlikely to get a call from an investigator tracing the source of infection. There are just too many cases to track.”

The Chronicle also reported Jan. 6 that “north-central and eastern Oregon have run out of intensive care beds” and “regular beds are also in short supply, with only 20 beds out of 1,926 total available in a region that includes Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, Columbia, Tillamook and Clatsop counties.” Providence Portland Medical Center was unable to take in any emergency room patients during a 40 percent increase in emergency calls Jan. 5.

Public health officials recommend everyone who is able get a COVID vaccine booster shot to add protection against the Omicron variant, as well as wearing a tight-fitting, medical-grade mask in crowded places and indoors.

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