Oregon COVID-19 Infections Projected to Remain Level into May if Oregonians Continue Social Distancing

Posted on April 11, 2020

Oregon Health Authority – 04/11/20 2:00 PM

PORTLAND, Ore. — New projections from health researchers estimate that Oregon’s “aggressive” social distancing measures have prevented as many as 18,000 cases of COVID-19 and 500 hospitalizations, however these restrictions must be maintained into May to prevent new cases from rising above current daily levels of active coronavirus cases. By following Governor Brown’s stay at home executive orders, Oregonians are preventing a surge in new infections that could overwhelm hospital beds if left unchecked. Researchers noted that Oregon’s “health care systems would likely have become overburdened by late April in the absence of these sustained interventions to keep the number of infections under control.”

The latest model is based on the latest actual COVID-19 infection, hospitalization and death data. Researchers lengthened their assumptions on hospital length-of-stay based on the accumulation of additional data from Oregon cases. The results are used to aid in planning the state’s response. According to the latest report, which extends modeling until May 18:

  • Cumulative COVID-19 infections: Under current social distancing conditions, the total cumulative infections with COVID-19 in Oregon on May 18 would be fewer than 20,000. However, if the state were to return to moderate social distancing (i.e., reopen non-essential businesses while keeping schools closed), the number of new infections would quickly climb to more than 60,000 by May 18.
  • Active infections: Active infections would stay at currently projected levels of more than 2,000 cases per day through mid-May and then begin to slowly subside, if the state maintains current social distancing measures. However, if the state were to return to moderate social distancing, the number of active infections each day would spike to more than 17,000 per day.
  • Hospital beds needed: The projected adult acute care and intensive care bed usage will remain below the available capacity in Oregon through the model period (through May 18).
    The models were prepared by the Institute for Disease Modeling in Washington. Based on the data, researchers predict there are approximately 7,000 cases of active infection in Oregon at this time.

Dr. Dean Sidelinger, state health officer at OHA, said: “Staying at home and maintaining physical distancing is difficult and has had serious economic impacts that have affected many people, but the data continue to show that Oregonians are saving lives by staying home. The latest projections are more conservative than previous versions of the model because they account for variables such as longer hospital stays or the likelihood that COVID-19 has been in Oregon longer than we initially estimated. However, even these estimates, show we can slow new COVID-19 infections and ultimately begin to drive them down if we can sustain today’s social distancing measures.”

According to the model released today, the state should expect to see fewer than 500 hospitalizations per day due to COVID-19 if social distancing remains in place and hospitals in Oregon would use fewer than 200 intensive care unit beds per day. However, Oregon hospitals would need nearly 2,000 beds per day by May 18, if current stay home orders were relaxed.

State officials continue to focus on strengthening the health care system’s ability to meet the coming surge. State health officials are working with hospitals and other health care partners to mobilize the health care workforce and keep workers safe, expand bed capacity and secure more ventilators in the event COVID-19 cases begin to rapidly escalate.


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