SALEM, Ore. — Oregon had a record 281 new confirmed coronavirus cases Wednesday, but officials predict that the increase may become much steeper during the next month – potentially reaching 900 new cases per day.
In addition, health officials said daily admissions to hospitals could increase from about eight people per day to 27.
“Our latest projections showed that we are on track to hit a worst case scenario model that we had just two weeks ago,” Dr. Dean Sidelinger, the state’s epidemiologist, said at a news conference.
Oregon has had five straight weeks of case growth, reaching nearly 9,000 total confirmed coronavirus cases Wednesday.
“We all have to remember that the numbers, I speak about, are people. They are our fellow Oregonians,” Sidelinger said. “These are people who are sick, and tragically some of whom have died. These are people with families. These people are our neighbors.”
More than a quarter of the coronavirus cases in the state were identified in the past two weeks. As of Wednesday, 208 people in Oregon have died from coronavirus.
Sidelinger said that COVID-19 is circulating more widely in the community, and rising fastest in rural counties — specifically in central and Eastern Oregon.
Sidelinger called the increasing trends and projections “ominous.”
“We use the models for planning purposes, they are not predictions,” Sidelinger said. “But, the model shows us where we are all headed if we don’t act.”
Beginning Wednesday, people throughout Oregon are required to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces to slow the spread of coronavirus.
“Modeling from the Oregon Health Authority shows that if we don’t take further action to reduce the spread of the disease, our hospitals could be overwhelmed by new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations within weeks,” Gov. Kate Brown said.
In addition on Tuesday Brown extended the COVID-19 state of emergency for 60 days.
The coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough for most people. But for some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.