Portland, OR

Portland Daily Round Up: Oregon's predicted COVID numbers revised down, health officials give advice for New Year's Eve

Emily Scarvie

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By Emily Scarvie

(PORTLAND, Ore.) Hello Portlanders! It's Wednesday, Dec. 29 - Here's your daily round up of all the news happening in the City of Roses.

1. Oregon's predicted COVID hospitalization surge revised downward

Oregon health officials have revised their predictions from two weeks ago, that the omicron variant would overwhelm the state’s hospitals with a peak of up to 3,000 patients a day in February, based on expected vaccinations, prevention methods and new data from Europe. The dire forecast has since been revised down, to just over 1,200 patients a day at peak time.

The new projection, however, is still expected to overwhelm hospitals. According to health officials, it’s critical that the state continues its efforts to keep numbers down.

“Everybody do what they can to reduce risk of transmission, especially to those people who are more vulnerable, our older population or people who are immune compromised,” Dr. John Townes, infectious disease physician at Oregon Health and Sciences University, told KATU. “Those are the people we especially need to protect, because they’re the ones likely to end up in the hospital.”

2. Multnomah County health official gives advice for celebrating New Year's Eve amid omicron concerns

Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines says those planning to celebrate New Year’s Eve out and about should assume they’ll be exposed to COVID-19. More cases are popping up every day due to the highly transmissible omicron variant and Vines says if you’re going to a party or event this weekend, the risk is there.

“The risk is going to go up the larger the gathering and more people you interact with,” Vines said. “It’s going to go down in risk as the gatherings become smaller.”

Vines also had some advice for people who live or work around more vulnerable people and plan to celebrate this weekend.

“If you’re going to go and have a party for New Year’s, keep a low profile, maybe not be around that [vulnerable] person for at least five days after that COVID exposure,” Vines said.

3. Meals on Wheels People cancels deliveries for second day in a row

Due to snow and ice, Meals on Wheels People has canceled deliveries in Multnomah, Washington and Clark counties for the second day in a row. According to the organization, most seniors received a week of meals ahead of time and those who didn’t have shelf-stable meals available. Meal on Wheels staff will make wellness calls to all homebound clients and remind them to eat one of the shelf-stable meals they received earlier this fall.

“We want to ensure the safety of both our clients and our volunteers,” Meals on Wheels People CEO Suzanne Washington said. “All of our homebound clients received shelf-stable meals earlier this year in case of an event such as this. We will conduct wellness and safety calls to ensure that they are safe and remind them to eat one of the meals we provided.”

4. First-ever Oregon cases of serious fungal infection identified in Salem

The Oregon Health Authority reported Tuesday that a serious fungal infection rare to the U.S. has been identified in three patients at Salem Health, marking the first time the infection has been detected in Oregon. The fungus, Candida auris, is often resistant to anti-fungal medications.

The first case was identified on Dec. 11 and confirmed on Dec. 17 in a patient who had “recent international health care exposures.” The other two cases were confirmed on Dec. 23 and Dec. 27 and did not have international health care exposures, but had epidemiologic links to the initial case.

“Candida auris is an emerging pathogen of concern because it can cause serious infections, particularly in those with serious medical problems, and can be resistant to the anti-fungal drugs we have to treat it,” Dr. Rebecca Pierce, Healthcare-Associated Infections Program manager, said in a statement. “Fortunately, the organism we’re dealing with in this outbreak appears to respond to existing treatments. Nonetheless, it’s critical that we prevent the spread of the infection.”

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