After weeks of steady decline, new COVID-19 cases and deaths related to the virus have increased, according to Oregon Health Authority data.
The more-contagious delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus is now in all 50 U.S. states. Its spread has been tied to surges in caseloads by both OHA and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
OHA Director Pat Allen said during a Thursday media briefing that the delta variant's foothold in Oregon had increased "tenfold" in the past two weeks. Delta cases have increased such that it is now the most most common variant in Oregon.
There were 2,026 new daily cases of COVID-19 in Oregon from last week through this Sunday, representing an increase of 54% over the previous weeks. That’s the highest weekly tally in seven weeks. Hospitalizations also increased, to 123 from 104 the previous week. There were 29 deaths attributed to COVID-19, nearly double the previous week’s count of 15.
OHA says that case rates have generally been higher in counties with lower vaccination rates. During the past week, cases in 15 counties exceeded the statewide average of about 45 cases per 100,000 population, and each of those counties had vaccination rates below 55%.
An active outbreak at the Mennonite Home in Albany is still being tracked by OHA, with four cases tied to the facility since June 24. This is just the latest spike in cases at the senior living facility, as there was another outbreak earlier this year and two last year. This remains the only active outbreak at senior living facilities being tracked in Linn or Benton counties.
There are workplace outbreaks in Linn County, however, as well as positive cases being tracked at mid-valley schools.
In Linn County, there have been 24 cases tied to the Lowe’s Distribution Center in Lebanon since April 14. There are also 10 cases tied to ATI Specialty Alloys & Components in Albany since July 9. Selmet Inc., also in Albany, has eight cases tied to it since July 6. The Georgia-Pacific Corporation in Halsey has six cases since June 24.
There are no active workplace outbreaks listed in Benton County.
The Oregon Health Authority has made some changes to the way it tracks positive cases at schools, now listing K-12 facilities that have recent cases separately from those that have active or resolved caseloads.
There are no Benton County schools with active caseloads being tracked by OHA. However, Linn County has eight schools with recent cases. They include: Scio High School (one student case since July 12), Sweet Home High School (one student since July 1), Lebanon High School (one student since July 1), West Albany High School (one student since June 29), Harrisburg Elementary (one staff cases since June 25), Lafayette Elementary in Albany (one staff since June 23), South Albany High School (one student since June 23), and Holley Elementary (one student since June 23).
Harrisburg High School, which was listed in last week’s report of schools with recent cases, is now completely absent from OHA data. It is not listed in tables showing recent or resolved caseloads.
Oregon’s cumulative caseload total sits at 213,730. The total number of deaths in Oregon attributed it COVID-19 is 2,833. There were no new deaths in Linn or Benton counties.
Troy Shinn covers healthcare, natural resources and the Linn County government. He can be reached at 541-812-6114 or email@example.com. He can be found on Twitter at @troydshinn.