covid sign

A sign near the entrance of the Sunriver Country Store details protocols Friday to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

As the state faces a surge of COVID-19 cases not seen since the beginning of the pandemic, Gov. Kate Brown cautioned residents to heed mask and distancing mandates or risk hospitals becoming overwhelmed.

As nine counties start a two week pause Wednesday on any kind of gatherings, the governor urged residents to redouble their efforts to wear a mask, maintain a 6-foot physical distance and hand wash frequently to avoid straining hospitals. The nine counties are Baker, Clackamas, Jackson, Malheur, Marion, Multnomah, Umatilla, Union and Washington.

It takes about two weeks from the testing positive with COVID-19 to needing a hospital bed.

"Oregon is headed on the wrong road," Brown said Tuesday afternoon during a press briefing. "While we have plans to share beds and ventilators, if necessary, that needs to be the last resort. 

"Every action we individually take from wearing a mask to staying home when you feel under the weather to truly limiting your social interactions can really make a huge difference."

On Tuesday, Oregon Health Authorities reported 771 new positive COVID-19 test results and three more people have died statewide.  

In Oregon, there has been a 57% increase in hospitalization since Nov. 3, said Dr. Dana Hargunani, Oregon Health Authority chief medical officer. Some regional hospitals are already seeing explosive numbers of people requiring hospitalization, Hargunani said.  In Josephine and Jackson counties there's been a 162% increase and in the metro Portland area saw a 57% increase in positive cases in the past week, she said.

"The trend is clear and very concerning and sadly the pace of death continues to march along with dozens of Oregonians lost each week," Hargunani said. 

Since the H1N1 pandemic in 2010, the state has worked to create a network of regions to help hospitals from becoming overwhelmed and not having enough resources. 

"A key feature of this system is it allows patient admissions to get spread out in the region if capacity is strained," Hargunani said. 

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