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Doctors say if social distancing requirements are lifted, the state could see about 15,000 people sick with COVID-19 by May 8.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Oregon Health Authority officials said that if the coronavirus infection rate climbs, it could lead to a shortage of vital medical equipment and services.
The projected patient influx to Oregon hospitals in the coming week — if the inflection rate continues — will cause a significant surge and a shortage of personal protective equipment throughout the state, the Oregon Health Authority said Thursday, March 26.

The pandemic will also affect food security and distribution along with shelter.

Gov. Kate Brown's Joint Task Force for Health Care Systems Response to COVID-19 presented some information at a 1 p.m. briefing. Dr. Dean Sidelinger and Dr. Dana Hargunani of the Oregon Health Authority presented their latest projections on coronavirus infection and hospitalization rates in the state.

The doctors said if we lifted social distancing we could see an estimated 15,000 people sick with COVID-19 by May 8. Right now their focus is on distributing supplies for the health care system. The National Guard has 40 ventilators for use in hospitals. Recently 500,000 surgical masks were purchased and got donations of 200 units of masks and gowns.

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But until it gets distributed, those on the front line are being told to conserve their personal protective equipment. "Hospital leaders and health leaders are doing their part to find beds, secure supplies, protect health care workers," Hargunani said. "Oregonians, continue to stay home and save lives."

Sidelinger said these projections "tell us that the sacrifices these Oregonians are making right now can help to save lives. At the same time, they paint a dark pictures of what can happen if we don't all work together. We can't afford to drop our guard."

Officials are working on optimizing hospital capacity and mobilizing the necessary health care workforce. And the best thing people can do to flatten the curve is stay home and practice social distancing.

Officials said they've done 7,269 tests and found 316 had positive results. Of the 316 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Oregon, 189 were in people older than 50.

Slightly more women than men (170 to 144) were diagnosed with COVID-19. Overall, only 90 of them were hospitalized.

The percentage of visits to doctors for COVID-like symptoms has spiked dramatically since March 4.

KOIN 6 News is a Portland Tribune news partner.

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