PORTLAND, Ore. — Just 41 intensive care unit beds were available in Oregon on Wednesday as COVID-19 cases continue to climb and hospitals near capacity in a U.S. state that was once viewed as a pandemic success story.
Oregon, which earlier had among the lowest cases per capita, is now shattering its COVID-19 hospitalization records day after day. Oregon — like Florida, Arkansas and Louisiana — has had more people in the hospital with COVID-19 than at any other point in the pandemic.
As of Wednesday, 850 coronavirus patients were hospitalized in Oregon — surpassing the state’s record, which was set the previous day. Before this month, the hospitalization record was 622 in November, during a winter surge and when vaccines were not yet available.
More than a third of the state’s 652 adult ICU beds are being used for COVID-19 patients. Health officials say that the overwhelming majority of hospitalized virus patients are unvaccinated.
For more than a year Oregon faced some of the nation’s strictest safety measures — county risk levels, mask requirements inside and outside, limited gatherings and restaurants closed for indoor dining. Health officials say the state’s consistently low COVID-19 case counts throughout the pandemic can be attributed to tight restrictions.
On June 30, Gov. Kate Brown officially lifted coronavirus restrictions. At the time 136 people with COVID-19 were hospitalized.