Portland, OR

Portland Daily Round Up: OHA predicts record-breaking COVID hospitalizations, Highway 26 reopens after severe weather

Emily Scarvie

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By Emily Scarvie

(PORTLAND, Ore.) Hello Portlanders! It's Wednesday, Jan. 5 - Here's your daily round up of all the news happening in the City of Roses.

1. OHA predicts record-breaking hospitalizations amid COVID surge

On Tuesday, Oregon once again broke the record for the number of new cases reported in a single day, with the Oregon Health Authority reporting over 4,500 new confirmed or presumptive cases. OHA Director Pat Allen said he expects record-breaking hospitalizations in the coming weeks due to the spread of the highly transmissible omicron variant.

The new surge of cases has prompted a change in how OHA counts hospitalizations.

“The number of people hospitalized with COVID is a bit more tricky. We’ve always counted everyone in the hospital with COVID whether they were there for it or not,” Allen said. “We need to look at other indicators that we track. The percentage of people who show up reporting COVID symptoms, the number there for other reasons, the number intubated, you have to look at the whole package of reasons.”

Allen said Oregon’s hospitals are doing okay at the moment, but this will likely change quickly with another surge. He added that vaccinations and boosters are the most effective way to keep COVID cases mild.

2. Gresham bank robbery suspect shot and killed by deputy, officer following chase

Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese said during a press conference on Tuesday that officers shot and killed a bank robbery suspect who opened fire on law enforcement in Gresham on Tuesday afternoon.

Officers responded to a report of an armed robbery at the Keybank near Southeast Burnside Street and East Powell Boulevard at 4:40 p.m. The suspect fled the scene in a car with a female accomplice and a chase ensued. According to Reese, the suspect shot at officers multiple times during the chase and at one point carjacked another vehicle.

The suspect was killed after a MCSO deputy and Gresham police officer opened fire. The female suspect was arrested. The carjacking victim was not hurt in the incident.

The deputy and officer were put on critical incident leave, which is standard protocol. The East Multnomah County Major Crimes Team is leading the investigation into the incident.

3. Highway 26 reopens from Rhododendron to Highway 216 following severe weather conditions

Following closures due to dangerous winter driving conditions, Highway 26 is back open from Rhododendron to Highway 216. The highway remains closed from Frog Lake to Warm Springs and residents of Government Camp recommend visitors avoid driving in the area until the weather subsides.

Drivers who made it up the mountain on Tuesday saw high snowbanks, buried cars and slick conditions on the roads. Timberline and Mt. Hood Meadows were closed on Monday and Tuesday and employees are tracking conditions for the days ahead.

Because a portion of Highway 26 remains closed, passenger vehicles can take a detour from 216 to 197. Commercial trucks will need to go north on 197 to I-84 before connecting to Highway 97.

4. Flood Watch issued for Thursday and Friday due to rain, snow melt

A Flood Watch has been issued for western Oregon and southwest Washington for Thursday and Friday due to expected snow melt and additional rainfall. Many local rivers are predicted to be near flood stage by Thursday night.

The Cascades are still experiencing heavy snowfall and another foot of snow is expected Wednesday at 4,000 feet. Temperatures are warming up in the Gorge and rain is forecasted in many areas. Portland could see up to an inch of new rainfall in the next 24-30 hours.

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