Governor Kate Brown and the Oregon Health Authority are urging unvaccinated people to stay home and all Oregonians to stay safe this Labor Day weekend as Covid-19 cases rise and health care workers are stretched thin due to hospitals at or near full capacity across the state.
Brown released a statement Friday recommending that people who are not vaccinated against Covid-19 stay close to home and avoid gathering with people from other households.
“This year, with the highly contagious delta variant surging and our hospitals and health care workers stretched to their absolute limits treating Covid-19 patients, we all have a personal responsibility to watch out for the health and safety of our friends, neighbors, and loved ones,” Brown said.
“If you are an unvaccinated adult, you remain at high risk for Covid-19,” the governor said. “The vast majority of Oregonians hospitalized for Covid-19 are not vaccinated. It’s safest for you to stay close to home and not to gather with people from other households this weekend.”
Brown and public health officials urge all Oregonians who choose to go out, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a mask and keep their distance from anyone not in their household.
“If you are vaccinated, please still wear a mask,” Brown said. “More Oregonians masking up over the last several weeks has helped to slow the spread of Covid-19. We are also all at risk in another way: When our hospitals and emergency departments are full, it means there may not be a bed for you if you need care.
“Rethink activities that might put you at risk for physical injury. If you go out on the water, wear a life jacket and boat sober.”
New cases, hospitalizations and deaths in Oregon have increased to record levels in recent weeks thanks to the highly contagious delta variant. As of Friday, there were 1,172 people hospitalized with Covid-19 in Oregon, 309 of whom were in intensive care.
According to health officials, that leaves 49 available adult ICU beds and 309 available non-ICU beds available in the state, both of them representing about 7% of total capacity.
The guidance follows the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, whose director this week also called on unvaccinated Americans to stay close to home over the holiday weekend.
The state’s emergency physicians also issued an open letter calling on more Oregonians to get vaccinated as the delta-fueled surge strains the state’s health care system and pushes case counts, hospitalizations and deaths to record levels.
“Oregon is at a crisis point unlike any we’ve seen throughout the pandemic,” the letter from the Oregon chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians says. “Our emergency departments are overflowing. The tragic truth is that they are overflowing with patients whose suffering could have been avoided; Oregonians who did not get vaccinated when they could have done so.”
It’s become so bad, the doctors said, regional hospitals are sending ICU patients to San Francisco and Utah, and patients with unrelated emergencies like trauma, heart attacks and strokes are dying because of a lack of care and available resources.
“We are tired and heartbroken that 17 months into the pandemic, we are facing what feels like a largely preventable surge in patients,” the letter says. “We’ve seen time and time again how get-togethers among family and friends during holiday weekends have led to surges in infections with this virus.
“As we head into this Labor Day, we are asking for your help. Please, make smart choices so you don’t end up needing a hospital bed when there might not be one for you.”
According to the OHA, the rate of Covid-19 in unvaccinated people is currently about five times higher than in vaccinated people. Evidence shows that getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent severe illness and hospitalization in those who have not previously been infected.
For more information about the vaccine and where you can find it, visit covidvaccine.oregon.gov. If you have questions about taking the vaccine, consult your health care provider.
Cover photo by Corey Seeman, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.
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