Jan 16, 2024 - Health

COVID cases climb in Oregon

Illustration of an arrow breaking through a pile of coronavirus cells.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

While COVID-19 community transmission across Oregon was relatively stable this past fall, over the last two weeks the percent of test positivity rose to 10.4%, per data from Oregon Health Authority — a 15% rise from one month ago.

  • However, health officials predict we haven't hit the peak for the season just yet.

Driving the news: Wastewater data and hospitalizations across the country have shown a big uptick in COVID, but Oregon has not seen a similar spike, which "probably means there's more to come," Peter Graven, who tracks respiratory illnesses at Oregon Health & Science University, tells Axios.

  • The state is also seeing a subtle rise in flu and RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, Graven added, potentially indicating we're nearing the apex of this year's virus season.

Zoom in: The fast-spreading COVID-19 variant known as JN.1 is now the most prevalent in the U.S. — it's much more infectious than earlier omicron strains, easily squeezing past any immunity a person may have previously had, Graven said.

  • "Despite quite a few more people getting it, and certainly more hospitalizations, it's not going to have the kind of impact that we had during the delta wave," he added.

The big picture: About half of states were reporting "very high" flu activity as of Jan. 12, according to the latest CDC data released Friday.

  • Across the globe, COVID, fueled by holiday gatherings, caused nearly 10,000 deaths in December, according to the World Health Organization.

Of note: For the majority of healthy individuals, the increase in COVID infections has not corresponded with a similar surge in cases requiring serious medical attention, the CDC notes.

Be smart: It's not too late to get a flu or COVID vaccine to protect yourself against serious illness and complications.

  • Plus: RSV vaccines for adults ages 60 and older, and pregnant people, are available for the first time. A pregnant woman can pass antibodies to a fetus during the third trimester.
  • Every household in the U.S. can also order eight free at-home COVID tests from the federal government.

Yes, but: Though vaccination lowers the risk of developing long COVID symptoms, it doesn't eliminate it — and the COVID treatment Paxlovid does not reduce the risk of long COVID symptoms either, a recent study found.

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