Portland, OR

Portland Daily Round Up: COVID-19 hospitalizations to fall around Thanksgiving, hospitals prep for Moderna, J&J boosters

Emily Scarvie

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By Emily Scarvie

(PORTLAND, Ore.) Hello Portlanders! It's Friday, Oct. 22 - Here's your daily round up of all the news happening in the City of Roses.

1. COVID-19 hospitalizations expected to fall below 400 around Thanksgiving in Oregon

The latest COVID-19 forecast by Oregon Health and Sciences University predicts that despite a decrease in coronavirus hospitalization rates in the state, hospitalizations will not fall below 400 until around Thanksgiving. As of Thursday, there were 567 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Oregon, compared to the peak of 1,178 people hospitalized on Sept. 1.

OHSU’s new report also tracks high-risk behaviors by vaccination status, such as eating out at a restaurant or gathering in large groups. According to the report, people who are unvaccinated are more likely to attend large indoor gatherings or eat out than those who are vaccinated against COVID-19. OHSU noted that despite more people gathering in large groups, the overall rate of mask-wearing is still high.

2. Oregon hospitals begin preparation for Moderna, Johnson & Johnson booster vaccines

In preparation for approval by the FDA and CDC, some Oregon hospitals are getting ready to roll out Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 booster shots. As of Thursday, Pfizer was the only COVID-19 booster authorized for certain groups, but the FDA and CDC endorsed boosters from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson this week. The CDC also said people can mix and match, meaning they don’t have to get the same brand as their initial vaccine series.

The Oregon Health Authority detailed the process for approval of the boosters in a blog post. The FDA will first grant approval, followed by the CDC. After that, the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup will examine the data and make a recommendation. Gov. Kate Brown will then need to give final approval for the roll out.

Currently, Pfizer’s booster is authorized for people 65 years and older, those over 18 with underlying medical conditions, people over 18 who live in a long-term care setting or those who work or live in a high risk setting. It also needs to have been at least six months since the person's last COVID-19 shot.

3. Clean Energy Fund plans to give out 15,000 cooling units over next 5 years

After unprecedented summer temperatures left 60 people dead in Multnomah County and roughly 500 across the Pacific Northwest, the Portland Clean Energy Fund announced a new Heat Response Program last month that hopes to distribute between 12,000 and 15,000 portable heat pumps and cooling units over the next five years. Priority for the units will be given to seniors, low-income people and residents who are Black, Indigenous or a person of color. The new program will also look for ways to keep energy bills low and keep the units functional long-term.

“The extreme heat events of June 2021 stressed, harmed and killed vulnerable Oregonians living without air conditioning,” the press release said, per KOIN. “And the news of households suffering emphasized the need to provide vulnerable Portlanders with access to cooling in their homes.”

For more information on the project or to apply, click here.

4. First responders urge drivers to look out for standing or high water on roadways following heavy rainfall

After heavy overnight rainfall and more rain on the forecast, first responders warned commuters that they may encounter standing or high water Friday morning and throughout the day. The water can be dangerous because it’s often hard to tell if it’s just a puddle or deeper. There are several areas around Portland that are notorious for causing issues with drivers due to flooding.

The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office tweeted that “ponding is occurring on roads and highways across the county” and urged drivers to slow down and leave extra space between cars.

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