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Asante’s COVID-19 caseload reaches last winter’s high

Low vaccination rates and the rapid spread of the delta variant are adding to patient volumes and further straining hospitals.

Updated Aug. 3

The number of COVID-confirmed cases at Asante hospitals continue to rise, reaching 65 early Tuesday morning. These volumes have not been seen since the last major surge in December and January, before vaccines were widely available.

The vast majority of these cases are among unvaccinated patients who contracted the highly transmittable delta variant.

The volumes are putting a strain on Asante hospitals already struggling with capacity issues. Because of bed shortages, patients are being boarded in other parts of the hospital. These pressures, combined with fewer discharges to skilled nursing facilities due to their own full capacities, are leading to staffing shortages.

To help slow the spread of COVID, the Oregon Health Authority on Tuesday followed the CDC in recommending universal masking in public indoor settings regardless of vaccination status.

“The highly contagious delta variant has increased tenfold in the past two weeks in Oregon, and it is now estimated to be associated with 80% of the new cases in Oregon,” said Dr. Dean Sidelinger, state epidemiologist and state health officer. “The use of face masks provides significant protection for individuals who are unvaccinated as well as an additional level of protection from a small but known risk of infection by the virus for persons who have already been vaccinated.”

While masks can reduce transmission of the virus, they do not contain it. For this reason and others, plans to relax visitor restrictions and reopen Asante cafeterias to the public are on hold as long as this surge continues.

“We can’t stress enough the importance of getting vaccinated to end this pandemic,” said Chief Medical Officer Jamie Grebosky. “As health care workers, I encourage you to serve as role models and champions of the safety and efficacy of these vaccines.”

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