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WATCH: OHA announces 9,797 new cases of COVID-19

WATCH: OHA announces 9,797 new cases of COVID-19

PORTLAND, Oregon (KOIN) — At a news conference Thursday, the Oregon Health Authority announced 9,797 new confirmed and suspected cases of COVID-19 amid a wave fueled by the omicron variant.

Oregon Health Director Patrick Allen, Oregon Department of Education Director Colt Gill and Dr. Dean Sidelinger, state health officer and epidemiologist speaking at the event.

“The ommicron variant continues to strengthen its hold on Oregon,” Allen said.

Allen said testing for the virus is essential to slowing its spread, “but the United States is struggling to provide adequate testing.”

“Today, a COVID-19 test remains a scarce commodity in the United States, and Oregon is no different,” he said.

With a historic surge in cases skyrocketing statewide, Oregonians can expect demand for tests “to remain skyrocketing for several more weeks,” he said. Still, health officials said Oregon is now running more tests than ever.

“Our test volume will only increase as millions of rapid home antigen tests continue to arrive in our state,” Allen said.

Oregon received 589,680 test kits last week — the vast majority of which were sent directly to 37 hospitals across the state — and nearly 1 million more test kits arrived in the state over the weekend, according to OHA.

“We are distributing these tests to hospitals and schools, local public health authorities and tribal governments, community organizations serving communities disproportionately affected by the pandemic, advancement programs, organizations serving farm workers and organizations serving the homeless,” Allen said.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee said the residents of his state can order tests for home delivery mid-January via a web portal. Unlike Washington, however, Allen said OHA does not plan to have such a program for Oregonians.

“Instead, we want to make sure tests are available to people like a nurse in the hospital, a grocery store clerk who has little or no time to be sick, a forward-thinking teacher to whom a dozen families entrust their children every day. , an employee at a fish-processing company who works with others on the line — all of whom have families who depend on their hourly wages.”

If Oregonians feel sick but can’t get a test for themselves, health officials told them to “assume your symptoms are COVID-19,” but only to isolate themselves from others for five days. If symptoms are not there after five days and there is no fever, people can return to their normal routines, officials said.

Regardless, OHA officials urged everyone to continue wearing masks.

Oregon Department of Human Services officials said the state is also working to expand hospices and post-hospital care to ease congestion in the congested hospitals.

As of Wednesday, OHA reported that Oregon’s seven-day average of new cases reached 7,618 — a 128% increase from the previous week.

OHA reported 8,760 new and suspected COVID cases on Wednesday, continuing the state total to nearly half a million.

As the number of cases continues to rise, state and health officials are implementing initiatives to try to reduce the spread.

Oregon hospitals are implementing the new isolation guidelines established by the CDC to maintain adequate staffing levels. Health officials are now recommending that health workers isolate themselves for five days before returning to work, even if they have mild symptoms.

Governor Kate Brown has deployed more than 1,200 members of the National Guard to overwhelm hospitals across the state. Brown also set a goal to have 1 million Oregon residents injected with the booster by the end of January.

OHA announced on Wednesday that 676,870 more people need their booster dose to reach that goal.

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Anna Wintour

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