Oregon governor tests positive for COVID-19, state warns about holiday season respiratory illnesses

By OPB staff (OPB)
Nov. 19, 2022 10:06 p.m.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced Saturday that she and her husband have tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from a trip to Vietnam.

“We are recuperating at home and, while this changes our Thanksgiving plans, we are grateful for effective vaccines and boosters that are helping ensure our symptoms don’t become serious,” she wrote on Twitter.


Respiratory illnesses — including COVID-19, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus — are on the rise in Oregon and across the country. Children have been particularly vulnerable: the rate of children hospitalized for RSV quadrupled during the first week of November, according to the Oregon Health Authority.


The agency says hospitalization rates for adults have been lower, but people 65 and older are still at high risk for respiratory disease.

Oregon hospitals are expected to undergo “intense strain” over the next several weeks, according to Oregon Health & Science University. Data from OHSU predicts the number of children hospitalized with RSV to peak at 129 cases by Nov. 30. As of Saturday, there were 77 cases.

Brown declared a state of emergency due to the rising RSV rates on Monday. Portland-area hospital leaders issued a joint statement warning of potentially long wait times at emergency departments.

“The best thing parents and caregivers can do to keep their children healthy and safe this fall and winter is to practice all the measures that were emphasized during the pandemic: avoid contact with those who are sick, wash hands frequently, clean and disinfect surfaces and stay up to date on all routine vaccinations, including flu shots and COVID-19 boosters,” they warned.

Health officials predict COVID hospitalizations to slightly increase this winter as well. OHSU data predicts hospitalizations — which stood at 230 as of Wednesday — to peak at 280 by early December.