Just as health officials predicted, the omicron variant has sent COVID cases locally and across the country skyrocketing.
Central Oregon has reported more than 2,000 positive cases in the last seven days alone, on top of a record 716 new cases reported in Deschutes County Wednesday.
With case counts so high, why have we not seen a significant jump in hospitalizations at St. Charles?
Senior Data Scientist Dr. Mike Johnson says there is always a little bit of a lag between when positive cases are seen and when those correspond to hospitalizations.
“If this is in fact omicron, and we believe the vast majority of these cases are, it’s going to be a 3 to 5 day lag at least,” Johnson said. “Perhaps a 7 day lag, maybe even 10 days.”
Johnson urges people not to assume that what seems like an off-ratio, means the virus is any less dangerous.
He adds the high number of COVID cases is concerning and will likely translate into local hospitalizations.
“Even if the severity is much less, what we really have is a good number, which is a low severity, times a bad number, which is a lot of cases,” Johnson said. “Still ends up with a bad number, a lot of hospitalizations.”
St. Charles reported Wednesday it had 29 COVID patients, down significantly from the summer when the Delta variant sent cases and hospitalizations surging.
Current trends predict the health system will likely see the same number of COVID patients as it did during the peak of delta.
“The mortality rate for somebody in the hospital in December was 12.5%,” Johnson said. “So even though the numbers were down as far as patient volume is concerned, we still had 17 patients die in our hospital in December.”
Case counts are relevant, COVID hospitalizations are also relevant.
Those numbers just have yet to catch up with one another locally, but Johnson says it could happen as soon as Monday.