An increasing number of Douglas County residents are being admitted to hospitals with complications from COVID-19, and they’re getting younger, the Douglas County COVID-19 Response Team said Wednesday.
The county reported 22 hospitalizations, marking the highest single day total since the county first began reporting COVID-19 hospitalizations on March 28, 2020. The previous high of 21 hospitalizations was reported on Dec. 21, 2020. Of the 22 people hospitalized, nine are being treated locally and 13 out of the area.
The majority of the cases requiring hospitalization are under the age of 60 with several cases in their 40s or younger, the COVID-19 Response Team said Wednesday.
Most of the recent hospitalizations are potentially due to a variant strain of COVID-19, which Dr. Peter Hotez, Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said should be thought of as an entirely new virus.
“The B.1.1.7 variant is different from past types of COVID infections that we’ve seen — more serious and possibly more disease among younger people,” Hotez was quoted as saying in the county’s Wednesday report.
Younger patients exhibiting this variant strain have been labeled as “long haulers” by medical experts, with many suffering chronic fatigue, chest pain, shortness of breath and brain fog months after their initial infection subsides.
“This is putting a definite stress on the medical care community as a whole in Oregon, as we are seeing a surge in cases needing higher-level breathing and lung equipment that is becoming scarcer to acquire,” the team said in Wednesday’s report.
Meanwhile, the county saw another jump in new positive cases, reporting 21 Wednesday. While number of those positive cases being monitored in isolation (186) saw a mild drop, the number of potential contacts continues to shift, with Douglas Public Health Network monitoring 569 such cases as of Wednesday.
The number of quarantined contacts had reached 551 on May 11 and dropped to 242 on May 18 before climbing back up.
Statewide, the Oregon Health Authority Wednesday reported a gradual decline in weekly positive coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths involving COVID-19.
For the reporting week of May 17 through Sunday, the health authority recorded 3,090 new positive and presumptive cases, a 25% decrease from the prior reporting period. The 224 hospitalizations for the most recent recording period were down from 265 the week before, and deaths (34) were also down from the prior week (57).
With the state pushing a goal for every county to have at least 65% of all of its residents 16 and older at least partially vaccinated, five more counties are slated to drop into the “low risk” designation Friday: Multnomah, Baker and Clatsop will drop from high risk to low, while Curry and Tillamook counties will drop from moderate to low.
Douglas County, combining state and federal vaccination data, had reached 51.4% as of Tuesday.
The county had one new workplace outbreak reported in the health authority’s weekly report, as the Roseburg Forest Products Riddle Plywood plant reported nine possible cases of the coronavirus, with the most recent onset on Saturday. Also, Roseburg Forest Products’ Dillard Plywood plant had one case added to its current outbreak, its 19th case reported May 15.
Chantelle’s Loving Touch Memory Care in Sutherlin, which had been on the senior assisted living and care facilities outbreak list since April 28, saw no new cases and has been designated as resolved by the Oregon Health Authority.