Local News

Clatsop County braces for Omicron surge

Clatsop County hospitals are bracing for yet another Covid-19 surge. That’s due to the Omicron variant. KMUN’s Jacob Lewin has this report: [Scroll down to Listen:]

Oregon Health Sciences University’s top forecaster is projecting that Omicron covid hospitalizations will soon surge to 17-hundred per day statewide, up from a peak of 12-hundred with the delta variant:

“His forecasting was based largely on Denmark which is similar in population and vaccination rates and other key demographic rates to Oregon.”

That’s Columbia Memorial Hospital chief medical officer Chris Strier:
“Omicron is preliminarily looking to be less severe than delta, fewer icu cases, fewer ventilated patients, but it is wildly more infectious than delta and because of that, even though the surge hopefully
won’t be a lot more than delta, we expect there to be fewer health care workers to take care of these patients.”

Strier says the number could be substantially lower than 17-hundred if we see continued mask wearing, limited indoor activities and an uptick in vaccinations. But on the vaccination front, Clatsop County
Public Health Director Margo Lalich is a little disappointed:

“For our boosters, that extra dose, it’s now about 57-58 percent for sixty five and older and then it continues to go down, that 50-64 year age group, is 34-percent, and so we looked at the 12-17 year
olds, it’s one-point-seven percent.”

Lalich says the booster numbers for both residents and staff at the county’s long term care facilities are encouraging. Strier says CMH is also having problems transferring very sick non-covid acute care
patients to Portland hospitals. That happened earlier in the pandemic and resulted in several deaths at the local hospital and the current problem may get worse:

“It’s a combination of patients whose care was delayed by covid in the past who are now seeking help or couldn’t get preventative help in the past and now their disease processes are out of control.” 

CMH has just four covid patients right now while Providence Seaside, which is also bracing for a surge, has just one. One bright spot: Strier says a pill to treat covid — hardly available at all right now — will be in much better supply in the new year.

For KMUN Radio, I’m Jacob Lewin.