PORTLAND, Oregon — The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) said the state’s number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people is the fourth-lowest in the country.
Since the pandemic began, the state has counted more than 167,000 cases. That includes a huge number of people who got sick, and there are likely many more who were infected but did not show symptoms.
Still, when standardized to compare nationwide, Oregon has reported 3,962 cases for every 100,000 residents, the fourth-lowest rate in the United States, according to OHA.
And the amount of vaccinations per day keeps growing. OHA director Patrick Allen said last week, there were three days when 40,000 shots or more were given each day.
But there is also trouble on the horizon.
Sixty thousand doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine arrived this week in Oregon for state vaccinations and another 60,000 for pharmacies taking part in the federal program. Another roughly 100,000 doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccine also arrived.
But Allen warned lawmakers, the Johnson & Johnson supply next week drops to 8,000. The week after, its only 2,000 doses.
“So that's a big hit to our supply when a lot of Oregonians either have been made eligible or will become eligible on the 19th,” Allen said.
The other two vaccine supplies are expected to continue at their current numbers.
State epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger also warned that transmission rates of the virus are on the rise. A rate of one means that one infected person will infect another person, and that the virus is spreading in the community. A rate lower than one means it is spreading more slowly; an infected person is spreading it to less than one other person on average.
Right now, the rate is more than one after being below that for some time.
“Really toward the middle to end of March that began to trend up and has since crossed one, indicating that cases will grow over the near future unless we change our activities or change our policies to change our activities,” Dr. Sidelinger said.
The other thing going on involves those variants of the virus.
This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the variant that originated in the United Kingdom has become the dominant type of coronavirus in the U.S. But Dr. Sidelinger said that is not the case in Oregon.
Oregon still has more of the original strain and, according to Dr. Sidelinger, the two main variants here are both from California. They are called B.1.427 and B.1.429. They are believed to be 20% easier to spread than the original virus.
According to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine Wednesday, the vaccines will still work against them.