JaCo hospitals seeing similar statewide rise in respiratory virus cases

JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. – As Oregon hospitals near capacity, Jackson County Public Health is calling it the worst flu season we’ve seen in over a decade.

Jackson County said they are seeing much of what the rest of the state is experiencing.

A rise in influenza cases and hospitals nearing peak bed capacity.

“Jackson county is no exception to what the whole state of Oregon is seeing,” Jackson County Public Health officer Dr. Leona O‘Keefe said.

On Thursday, the Oregon Health Authority said cases of RSV have begun to decline from their peak, but influenza cases are continuing to skyrocket.

They also said COVID-19 hospitalizations are increasing every week.

O’Keefe said we are experiencing much of the same here.

“Numbers of people hospitalized for COVID continues to increase,” she said. “That happened quite dramatically in the last couple of weeks. The most dramatic rise we’re seeing is hospitalizations for flu. And those are continuing the rise and we’ll probably have several more weeks of seeing that.”

According to the OHA, many hospitals are getting closer to their bed capacity, even higher than during the peak of the pandemic.

On Wednesday, Governor Kate Brown issued an executive order that gives hospitals the flexibility to make sure they have enough staff to meet the demand of patients. 

O’Keefe said locally, you should expect to wait longer to get care. 

“They’re seeing more patients than they had been seeing and it has been very busy, ” she said. “What that looks like is if you need to go to the emergency room is you may have longer wait times to be seen.”

The uptick in respiratory virus cases has resulted in many people looking for over-the-counter medicines, with many pharmacies having empty shelves.

One Rogue Valley pharmacy tells NBC5 they’ve had trouble keeping basic flu and cold medicines in stock.

O’Keefe said the OHA is working on solving that issue.

For now, it’s recommending people wear masks in crowded indoor areas, but it doesn’t any sort of mandate coming any time soon.

“As we share these stories about the tremendous impact children and their families are having right now that Oregonians will again choose to wear a mask and we won’t have to resort to a mask mandate,” OHA’s Dr. Dean Sidelinger said.

On Friday, OHSU said at least four Portland hospitals have declared staffing crisis standards of care, due to the number of patients with respiratory viruses.

That means hospitals are allocated more resources to provide lifesaving care when operating at near capacity.

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NBC5 News reporter Zachary Larsen grew up in Surprise, Arizona. He graduated from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. At ASU, Zack interned at Arizona Sports 98.7FM and Softball America. During his Junior year, Zack joined the ASU Sports Bureau. He covered the Fiesta Bowl, the Phoenix Open and major basketball tournaments. Zack enjoys working out, creative writing, music, and rooting for his ASU Sun Devils.
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