Portland, Ore. — Oregon’s top health official, Dean Sidelinger, has painted an optimistic picture for the spring season amidst the worst respiratory virus surge the state has ever seen. Sidelinger said that conditions with COVID-19, RSV, and influenza are better overall than they have been in months. Speaking during Oregon Health Authority’s monthly COVID-19 and respiratory season update, Sidelinger told reporters that the encouraging outlook is driven by high vaccination rates. Nearly 87% of adults 18 and older have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccines, and more than 25% got the bivalent booster shot. Sidelinger also pointed to recent state actions as a reflection of the strong outlook for respiratory viruses. This includes the lifting of Oregon’s mask requirement for health care settings effective April 3, which he called “a positive step in our ongoing response to COVID-19.” Despite recent increases in community transmission of COVID-19, there has not been a subsequent increase in hospitalizations.

Sidelinger emphasized that people in Oregon now have access to tools that were not available at the start of the pandemic, such as safe and effective vaccines, antiviral medications for preventing severe illness, and resources for understanding the level of transmission in communities. It’s especially important for people with chronic conditions or who are immunocompromised – therefore at higher risk for severe illness from a COVID-19 infection – to continue to take steps to protect themselves.

As Oregon’s health care system prepares for the end of the state’s mask requirement, Sidelinger asked everyone in Oregon to show support, acceptance, and kindness for workers, patients, and visitors in health care settings, regardless of whether they require masking or choose to wear a mask in these settings. Sidelinger also announced that Oregon’s web system used for tracking hospital capacity and COVID-19 hospitalization data, HOSCAP, will be replaced this month by the new Oregon Capacity System (OCS). OHA’s hospital capacity dashboards will begin using data from OCS instead of HOSCAP on April 1.