SALEM — Oregon smashed another coronavirus record with 1,122 cases reported Thursday, Nov. 12, marking the first time the state topped 1,000 in a single day and underscoring the runaway spread that is starting to stretch hospitals.
The new record pushed Oregon's daily case average to 863 over the past week, double the volume from late October. Active hospitalizations also reached a new high, 303, the first time Oregon surpassed 300.
Thursday's massive case count was driven by new highs in Multnomah, Washington and Jackson counties. The state also reported four more fatalities, including a 35-year-old.
Union County's cases also have been trending up, but the OHA on Thursday reported just two news cases in the county, bringing the county's total to
Officials worry the growing number of infections identified now will lead to even more hospitalizations in days and weeks ahead, and those rising hospitalizations will eventually mean some of the sickest Oregonians will die.
The OHA reported six hospitalizations for COVID-19 as of Wednesday in Morrow, Umatilla, Union, Baker, Wallowa and Malheur counties, down from eight on Nov. 2.
October was already the state's second-deadliest month of the pandemic, with at least 130 fatalities. November is well on pace to exceed that and the high of 138 from July.
State and hospital leaders began sounding the alarm last week that Oregon has reached uncharted territory, mirroring the wave of infections pushing case and hospitalization counts to record levels nationally. Oregon continues to fare better than many states but is on a troubling trajectory that, according to one model, could see daily reported deaths quadruple by year end.
Gov. Kate Brown placed nine counties, including all three in the Portland metro area, on a two-week "pause" for social activities beginning Wednesday. And at least three hospital systems have taken steps to reduce elective surgeries to conserve bed space if it's needed in the weeks ahead.
While coronavirus cases account for only about 5% of total hospitalizations at Legacy Health, the system's hospitals have already often been at or near capacity because of the number of patients needing care for other conditions and staffing shortages.
"With the number of daily new COVID-19 infections rising, we are working to open capacity because we expect more patients seeking care for COVID-19 and other conditions in the coming weeks," Trent Green, the chief operating officer, told medical professionals in an email this week announcing the plan to cut surgeries by 25%.
Oregon has now surpassed 700 cases a day for eight consecutive days, including the previous record, 988, announced Saturday.
Cases are so high, in fact, that Thursday's total alone was more than the number of cases identified through any week into early June.
State officials on Thursday said small social gatherings continue to seed new infections. Some of the cases identified this week have been traced back to at least five Halloween events, officials said, including small social gatherings and one large party with more than 100 people in attendance.
— Observer staff contributed to this report.