'I kept going back'
Oregon is one of the states where COVID-19's Delta variant has put more people in the hospital, 937 as of Monday, than at any other point in the pandemic. Unlike some of the other states hitting hospitalization records — Florida, Arkansas, and Louisiana, for example — Oregon has a relatively high vaccination rate, 72 percent of adults. But in 10 of the state's 36 counties, fewer than half of adults are partially vaccinated, and "the vast majority of hospitalized COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated," The Associated Press reports.
Lisa, a nurse in Salem Hospital's full ICU, told reporters she's frustrated and sad at the crush of unvaccinated COVID-19 patients. "We've been dealing with the second wave when we thought — I guess we hoped — it wouldn't come," she said, hours after a COVID-19 patient had died in the ICU. "And it's come. And it's harder and worse, way worse, than before."
Lisa said that unlike the first wave, she is vaccinated and isn't scared for her own life, and the hospital has created new ways of coping with the angst. "The hospital's wellness department, which normally recommends yoga and deep breathing for relaxation, recently set up a booth and filled it with dinner plates," AP reports.
"We put on safety glasses," Lisa said. "And we took plates and we shattered them. And I kept going back. I kept going back, and they told me I had enough turns."
Oregon avoided large outbreaks before the vaccine became available through tough mitigation measures, but that left pockets of unvaccinated people with no natural immunity. The hospitals now have to hold on until the Delta surge burns through those areas and eases off, starting about Sept. 7, according to Oregon Health & Sciences University estimates.