Flu and COVID season arrives in Oregon

By Jeff Thompson (OPB)
Jan. 4, 2024 12:08 a.m.

RSV cases have remained flat, but Oregon is seeing spikes in influenza and COVID-19 positivity rates.

COVID-19 rapid test kits, April 28, 2023.

COVID-19 rapid test kits, April 28, 2023.

Kristyna Wentz-Graff / OPB

Oregon was lagging a bit behind most of the country, but now it’s experiencing a spike in flu and COVID cases.


From Dec. 16 through Dec. 23, flu cases nearly doubled in Oregon. COVID-19 test positivity jumped by more than 50% from Dec. 16 through Dec. 30.

And from last week to this week, adults in acute care hospital beds due to COVID jumped by 30%, according to the Oregon Health Authority.

RSV season has been underway since early November, but cases have stayed relatively flat at around 11% positivity.


Related: Flu infections in Southern Oregon are the highest in the state this season

Meanwhile, the past year saw a big drop in vaccinations in the state. Less than 14% of Oregonians got the latest COVID vaccine.

Dr. Paul Cieslak, medical director for communicable diseases and immunizations at the Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Division, said people may have gotten tired of hearing and thinking about respiratory viruses, but the viruses are not going away.

“They’re still very much with us and they’re putting people in the hospital every day here in Oregon,” Cieslak said.

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COVID-19 cases are rising statewide, he added. As far as the flu, the biggest spikes right now are in southwestern Oregon. But that, too, has made its way to every part of the state.

Cieslak noted that nearly everyone qualifies for flu and COVID vaccines. He added that there are RSV medications for children, and RSV vaccines available for people who are over 60 years old or are pregnant.

And he said good respiratory hygiene — like staying home if you’re sick, covering your mouth when you cough and washing your hands often — can also help stop the spread of respiratory viruses.