Covid weekly report for Dec. 23: Cases down, hospital remains near capacity

Reports of new Covid cases fell slightly in the Salem area and statewide last week as Salem Hospital remained near 100% capacity. 

In the past few weeks, Gov. Kate Brown has issued several executive orders aiming to provide more resources to health care facilities amidst a sustained surge of Covid, flu and RSV cases. Salem Hospital again began diverting ambulances to other hospitals due to capacity issues after Thanksgiving, a temporary practice that is used as needed to manage hospital capacity.


As of Friday, Dec. 23, Salem Hospital had 28 inpatients with Covid. Of those, two were in the ICU and one was on a ventilator.

399 of the 415 adult acute and critical care beds were in use, or 96%.

465 total hospital beds were in use on Friday. The hospital recently expanded its licensed bed capacity from 494 to 644 with the addition of a new tower, but that total includes every potential licensed bed at Salem Hospital including those dedicated to specific uses, like pediatrics, inpatient psychiatry, and labor and delivery.

The daily number of hospitalized Covid patients has been between 21 and 28 patients over the past week, according to Lisa Wood, Salem Health spokeswoman. Last week, the number was between 18 and 29. 

Region 2, which is Marion, Polk, Yamhill, Linn, Benton and Lincoln counties, had 42 people hospitalized with Covid as of Dec. 21 compared with 46 the week prior and 44 two weeks ago.


For the week ending Dec. 21, the average daily number of new Covid cases reported decreased statewide and in Marion and Polk counties compared to the week prior.

Marion County: 34.7 new Covid cases per day on average, a rate of 70 cases per 100,000 residents.

That’s down from 43.7 average daily cases last week and 56 two weeks ago.

7.1% of Covid tests this week were positive, down from 7.6% last week and 7.4% two weeks ago.

The Oregon Health Authority reported three newly identified deaths of county residents with Covid in the past week.

Polk County: 12 new Covid cases per day on average, a rate of 94.5 cases per 100,000 residents. 

That’s down from 16.9 average daily cases last week and 14 two weeks ago.

9.2% of Covid tests this week were positive, a decrease from 12.4% last week.

The Oregon Health Authority reported zero newly identified deaths of a county resident with Covid in the past week.

Oregon: 485 new cases per day on average, down from 616 average daily cases last week and 715 two weeks ago; 7.6% of tests were positive, compared with 10.3% last week.


The Oregon Health Authority has a data dashboard showing trends in cases, hospitalizations and deaths by vaccination status, updated on the second Wednesday of each month. 

The most recent data as of Dec. 5 shows Covid infection, hospitalization and death rates continue to be highest among Oregonians not vaccinated against Covid compared with those vaccinated as recommended, which includes a booster shot.

In October, the state recorded eight deaths with Covid per 100,000 unvaccinated adult Oregonians, compared to two deaths per 100,000 adults vaccinated as recommended. Hospitalization rates in October were 50 per 100,000 unvaccinated adults compared to 18 per 100,000 vaccinated as recommended.

The data will next be published in mid-January.


Oregon’s mask mandate lifted on March 11 at 11:59 p.m. 

Contact reporter Abbey McDonald: [email protected] or 503-704-0355.

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Abbey McDonald joined the Salem Reporter in 2022. She previously worked as the business reporter at The Astorian, where she covered labor issues, health care and social services. A University of Oregon grad, she has also reported for the Malheur Enterprise, The News-Review and Willamette Week.