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Physicians Call On Oregonians To Take Safety Precautions This Labor Day Weekend

A girl runs through a grassy park field while pulling an American flag.
Vivek Kumar

A group of Oregon physicians is calling on Oregonians to take safety precautions if they’re planning events this Labor Day weekend.

Oregon’s intensive care units were 91 percent full as of Friday morning, according to Oregon state data.

“The entire system is really feeling the results of the large number of COVID cases because they're taking a tremendous amount of resources,” says emergency physician John Moorhead of the Oregon Health & Science University hospitals. “Hospitals are full and staff are being redeployed from areas like the operating room, causing elective surgeries to be limited or canceled at most hospitals. This situation is affecting the entire population.”

Moorhead is a member of the Oregon chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians, which issued a statement this week asking people to make wise decisions over the long weekend. The group advises people to avoid large or indoor gatherings, wear face masks, and practice social distancing.

“We are tired and heartbroken that 17 months into the pandemic we are facing what feels like a largely preventable surge in patients,” the statement reads. “We’ve seen time and time again how get-togethers among family and friends during holiday weekends have led to surges in infections with this virus.”

The group says more than half of all ICU patients are there because of COVID. That means people with unrelated illnesses — like heart attacks and strokes — are at a greater risk of dying because resources are stretched so thin.

“The whole state is trying to work together on these issues,” Moorhead says. “At least through the next month or so, it’s going to be a real challenge. The public can help by getting vaccinated and wearing masks as they prepare for Labor Day events.”

If you do plan on traveling, the Centers for Disease Control offers tips on traveling during the pandemic and safe traveling with unvaccinated children.

April Ehrlich is an editor and reporter at Oregon Public Broadcasting. Previously, she was a news host and reporter at Jefferson Public Radio.