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Positive patients in area are recovering at a faster rate than new cases are being recorded

PMG FILE PHOTO - A COVID-19 patient being treated.One week after Clackamas County reached its peak COVID-19 case count of 1,094, weekly case totals have dropped for the first time since mid-July, the county's Public Health Division reported on Sept. 15.

Per reports, the county stood at 982 total cases as of Sept. 11, indicating that the overall number of COVID-19-positive residents in the county is moving in a downward trend.

However, county data shows the additional number of positive cases recorded weekly remains on the rise, indicating that COVID-19 patients in the area are recovering at a faster rate than new cases are being recorded.

Per the Public Health Division's latest report, 881 additional cases were recorded in the week from Sept. 7-13 roughly 160 more than the previous week's case increase of 720.

Weekly COVID-19-related deaths in the county have also increased, with seven fatalities reported in the week from Sept. 7-13, compared to five reported in the previous week.

While positive cases among vaccinated county residents remain nearly six times lower than those of unvaccinated residents. Oregon Health Authority data shows Clackamas County currently has a vaccination rate of 72.5% among county residents 18 and older, slightly below the statewide rate of 74%.

The number of county residents seeking vaccinations remains on the rise, with over 4,800 individuals getting their first shot in the past week according to county data. This is an increase from the previous week's 4,000 additional vaccinations, a total nearly doubling many of the weekly reported rates in July and August.

At a Sept. 7 policy meeting, Public Health Director Philip Mason-Joyner speculated that this increase is occurring for reasons including Gov. Kate Brown's recent vaccine requirements for educators and health care workers.

"We're also seeing a lot of unvaccinated folks who have kind of wanted to wait and see or just haven't gotten around to it are now getting vaccinated," Mason-Joyner said at the meeting.

As of Sept. 13, 22 intensive-care unit beds remain available of the 346 total beds in the state's northwest region (Region 1), comprised of Clackamas, Multnomah, Washington, Clatsop, Columbia and Tillamook counties.

Also per reports, 274 COVID-19 patients occupied ICU beds and total of 1,075 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide as of Sept. 13.

The county is currently managing 77 active COVID-19 outbreaks, including one that caused Gladstone's John Wetten Elementary to shut down in-person operations until Sept. 27 after a vaccinated staff member tested positive on Wednesday.

Booster shots remain available exclusively for individuals with weakened immune systems due to chronic disease or many other reasons, and may become approved for the general public soon, per the report.

Additionally, Clackamas County community partners, including 501(c)3 nonprofits and faith-based communities, have until Oct. 1 to apply for up to $30,000 in grant funding for each nonprofit group to boost vaccination access and education for communities with the lowest current rates through the county's vaccine equity initiative.

Funding for these grants comes from the Oregon Health Authority's (OHA) $1.1 million contribution to Clackamas County's Public Health Division (CCPHD) to support vaccination efforts through Dec. 30.

By the numbers

• Current case count: 982

• Case increase Sept. 7-Sept. 13: The number of COVID-19 cases in Clackamas County increased by 881 with seven additional deaths

• Case rates among unvaccinated/vaccinated individuals: Unvaccinated: 390.3 per 100,000, vaccinated: 96.3 per 100,000.

• Vaccination rate: 72.5% of county residents 18 and older

• New vaccinations Sept. 7-Sept. 13: 4,800

• ICU beds available in Oregon Region 1 (Clackamas, Multnomah, Washington, Clatsop, Columbia, Tillamook counties): 22 ICU beds available out of 346 (as of Sept. 15)

• Current outbreaks: 77

• Booster shots remain exclusively available for immunocompromised individuals.

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