Oregon Health Authority brace for ‘increase in cases’ during holiday season

SALEM, Ore — Oregon Health Authority officials remain on edge despite the recent decline in cases and hospitalizations.

On Thursday, OHA officials held a news conference to discuss the ongoing concern of the Delta variant strain of COVID-19. Dr. Dean Sidelinger, State Epidemiologist, noted the threat that the variant continues to pose – mostly towards children and adults that are unvaccinated.

“Delta [variant] really is a different enemy,” Sidelinger said. “It is causing far more serious disease in those that are unvaccinated. Leading to hospitalizations and deaths at levels we haven’t had to face throughout this pandemic.”

Health officials highlight that the Delta variant spreads more quickly than previous COVID strains. People also reported symptoms that are slightly different than the original coronavirus strain.

According to Baton Rouge General Medical Center in Louisiana – cough, loss of smell, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are less common symptoms of the Delta variant, but are still being reported at lower numbers. The most common symptoms with the new strain include a sore throat, runny nose, headache, and a fever.

Children under 12-years-old are also at risk of contracting the virus, as they are still ineligible to be vaccinated.

“With the Delta variant, we are seeing an increase number of cases among children,” Dr. Nipuni Rajapakse, pediatric infectious diseases physician at Mayo Clinic Children’s Center, said in August. “Most important thing that we can do to protect kids under 12 years of age who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated themselves, is to ensure that as many people who are around them and interacting with them are vaccinated.” 

As of Friday, OHA reported a total of 40,738 pediatric cases throughout the state. About 8,700 of those cases were reported in southern Oregon.

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Sidelinger continues to urge the public to take precautions, as officials predict another spike later this year. 

“Whatever form of COVID is in front of us, mixed with influenza, we will see an increase in cases and need for hospitalizations in the fall and into the winter,” Sidelinger said. “But hopefully we can prepare to celebrate in almost normal fashion to what we did in 2019 and before, but we need to be prepared for all the possibilities.” 

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