Oregon to Send National Guard Troops to Help Hospitals Against Delta

Gov. Kate Brown said that hospitals were at risk of becoming overwhelmed. She authorized as many as 1,500 troops to support health care workers.,

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Oregon plans to send at least 500 National Guard troops to aid hospitals.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, left, visited the Bly Fire Camp on the southern edge of the Bootleg Fire in Klamath County, Ore., in late July.Credit…Arden Barnes/The Herald and News, via Associated Press

Aug. 13, 2021, 6:54 p.m. ET

Oregon will deploy at least 500 National Guard troops to help its hospitals deal with a flood of coronavirus patients, as the state faces the largest wave of infections it has seen during the pandemic, the state’s governor said on Friday.

The governor, Kate Brown, said that hospitals were at risk of becoming overwhelmed, with 733 Oregonians hospitalized with severe cases of Covid-19, including 185 in intensive care.

The surge comes despite Oregon’s relatively high rate of vaccination, a fact that Ms. Brown noted in a videotaped address.

“I know this is not the summer many of us envisioned with over 2.5 million Oregonians vaccinated against Covid-19,” Ms. Brown said. “The harsh and frustrating reality is that the Delta variant has changed everything.”

Ms. Brown said that up to 1,500 National Guards members could be deployed to help at hospitals around the state, and that she had reached out to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for further support and funding.

The Delta variant has driven infections and hospitalizations to all-time highs in some Southern states, so much so that “pandemic of the unvaccinated” has become Biden administration shorthand for the latest wave. But it has also begun to hammer states with relatively high rates of vaccination, like Oregon and Hawaii.

In recent days, those two states have recorded their highest number of cases since the start of the pandemic. The seven-day average of cases in Hawaii has been above 500 for nearly a week, about double the peak the state reached in August 2020.

Oregon narrowly surpassed its highest previous average, reaching a seven-day average of 1,540 cases on Thursday, according to a New York Times database. Over the past two weeks hospitalizations have risen nearly 130 percent in Oregon and 140 percent in Hawaii.

Earlier this week Ms. Brown announced an statewide indoor mask mandate, which took effect on Friday. Under the new rules, everyone older than five needs to wear a mask in most indoor settings; children older than two will need to wear them on public transportation.

Hawaii has had the country’s fewest reported cases per capita for most of the pandemic.

But earlier this week, Gov. David Ige imposed new social distancing and gathering restrictions. Before that, Mr. Ige announced that state and county employees would have to show proof of vaccination by next Monday or be tested weekly.

The vast majority of people hospitalized with Covid-19 in Hawaii had not been vaccinated, according to a message on Twitter from the state’s lieutenant governor on Tuesday.

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