Health officials say omicron surge appears to have peaked in Oregon

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SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Authorities say the surge of the omicron variant appears to have peaked in Oregon.

State Health Officer  Dr. Dean Sidelinger said Friday new COVID-19 cases have fallen 71% from the peak three weeks ago.  

The Statesman-Journal reports daily COVID-19 related hospitalizations appear to have crested in late January, at a level just below the peak of the delta variant surge.

On Friday, hospitalizations fell below 1,000 for the first time in three weeks.

On Monday, OHA announced the state will lift mask requirements for schools on March 31, and general indoor mask requirements for public places no later than March 31.

Those requirements need to stay in place for now, Sidelinger said, because the state’s health care system is under strain.

Peter Graven, Ph.D., director of the OHSU Office of Advanced Analytics, agreed.

“Even though our forecast projects light at the end of a very long tunnel, we can’t lose sight of the fact that hospitals in Oregon are still struggling to deliver timely care for everyone who needs it,” he said in a report published Thursday.

In the report, Graven projects that if Oregon were to lift its indoor mask mandate today, hospitalizations would rise again nearly to the omicron peak: roughly 1,127 people from the 1,007 hospitalized as of Thursday.

They would also stay high for much longer.

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