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COVID forecast: Surge in hospitalizations in Oregon unlikely, OHSU doctor says

Dr. Peter Graven of Oregon Health & Science University said he doesn't expect a surge because there are too few Oregonians still susceptible to COVID-19.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon's hospitalizations due to COVID-19 continue to decline and a doctor at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) said he doesn't expect a surge, even as the state enters into the holiday season.

One reason for that, said Dr. Peter Graven, is because there are fewer people still susceptible to COVID-19 in Oregon, which makes a surge in hospitalizations unlikely.

"In Oregon, we've already infected a large share of the unvaccinated population," Graven said. In OHSU's COVID forecast published Wednesday, only 19% of Oregonians are considered susceptible to the virus. The remaining 81% of the state's residents have either been vaccinated (44%), already infected (25%) or both (12%).

Though he said he's "not expecting a surge in hospitalizations," Graven said the state could see its decline in hospitalizations slow down "if we back off precautions too quickly." He said a lot people are planning to gather for Thanksgiving, which could generate a small uptick in hospitalizations.

Since Oregon reached a peak of 1,187 people hospitalized with COVID-19 on Sept. 1, that number has steadily declined. The most recent data, as of Wednesday, shows 391 people hospitalized because of COVID-19 in the state.

RELATED: Oregon's daily COVID case rate hit its lowest point since July

Oregon's daily number of reported COVID-19 cases has also been trending downward for the past couple months. OHSU's latest COVID forecast reports that Oregon ranks 40th in the country in the number of new cases per day.

OHSU COVID Forecast, Nov. 24, 2021

On Tuesday, health leaders announced they were lifting Oregon's outdoor mask mandate, though the state's indoor mask mandate remains in effect. Oregon was the first state in the country to restore a statewide mask mandate, back on Aug. 27, that required masks indoors and outdoors whether people were vaccinated or not. While many other states lifted their mandates, Oregon kept its outdoor mandate in place even as daily cases and hospitalizations decreased.

RELATED: Oregon lifts outdoor mask mandate; indoor mask rules remain

During Tuesday's press conference, OHA Director Patrick Allen said state health leaders aren't ready to lift the indoor mask mandate. On Wednesday, OHA announced that it will discuss the state's indoor mask requirements at a Rules Advisory Committee meeting on Thursday, Dec. 2.

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