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The omicron wave is passing but experts say the pandemic is not over

It's not over by any stretch. But after a surge like no other, omicron as we know it is fading fast. Still, health officials say more progress must be made.

Like much of the country, Oregon continues to see COVID-19 cases decline rapidly.

Dr. Cameron Webb is a senior policy advisor on the White House COVID response team.

“I think with omicron we saw unprecedented cases, it really dwarfed the other surges that we've had so I think we're glad to be on the downswing from that and come down significantly,” Webb told KGW on Thursday.

We are tracking the latest Oregon COVID numbers. On Friday the state reported four new deaths, with an average of 913 new cases per day over the past week.

That weekly rolling average of cases is depicted on a graph where you can see how high we surged and how fast we're falling. That is translating into good news for hospitals.

“We had another good week of data come in; the reality is the hospitalizations fell 250 patients last week, this week we saw another 260-patient drop," said OHSU’s Dr. Peter Graven.  

Graven sees Oregon getting to 400 hospitalizations or less by March 12.

His forecasts are a big part of what the Oregon Health Authority looked to, in deciding to move up the end of the indoor mask mandate from March 31 to March 19.

Dr. Webb gives Oregon credit for doing the right things, to a relatively high level.

“We do see that the vaccination rate in Oregon is doing ok among adults, it's nearly 78% who are fully vaccinated, nearly 87% who've had one shot, so again that's great news.”

Webb and other medical experts agree that vaccinations are key. And it's not time to let up when it comes to booster shots and pediatric vaccinations.

That, along with masking and other health safety measures are a big part of where we are today. Which is making progress and hopeful, but still wary.

“What's heartening is there is strong public health leadership and communication really all over the country that's trying to make sure they're messaging people where we are (and) really being clear with people, saying this the pandemic is not over.”

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