For immediate release – August 20, 2021


Oregon Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians

Emergency physician contact:

John Moorhead, MD:

Mike McCaskill, MD:

Alex Skog, MD:

The surge of patients in the emergency department has been escalating since April and Oregon is now at a crisis point. OHA’s most recent report on COVID-19 breakthrough cases for the last two weeks found that over 85 percent of infections are occurring in people who are unvaccinated.The tragedy is that most of these are preventable with vaccination.

Our emergency departments are overflowing. One emergency physician from the pandemic epicenter reports that for the last three days all the ICU beds in his hospital are full with about 90 percent COVID patients and 95 percent of them unvaccinated. The five percent that are not are immunocompromised. Regional hospitals are sending ICU patients to San Francisco and Utah. Elective surgeries are on hold. People are at risk of dying from trauma, heart attacks, and strokes, because unvaccinated people are utilizing all available ICU capacity, shutting down our operating rooms and delaying elective surgeries.

Dr. Mike McCaskill, an emergency physician in southern Oregon reports: “At times there are people in ER still waiting to be seen who were there before I began my shift and still waiting when I go home. It breaks my heart to see this happen. We are seriously worried.”

These stories are playing out all over the state as we experience an unprecedented spike in COVID cases. Emergency rooms are places for emergencies. If you are experiencing symptoms you feel might require emergent medical attention such as chest pain, shortness of breath, stroke symptoms, etc., you should absolutely go to the ER. But for COVID complications, the best way to stay out of the ER is to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Vaccines are widely available, free to all and most importantly, they are safe and effective. They are the best tool we have to protect the public, including the healthcare workforce. Social distancing is another critical thing you can do. The delta variant is so contagious that it can affect everyone at a block party, a wedding, a funeral. Avoid large indoor or outdoor gatherings. We know family celebrations and events have been long deferred but urgent sacrifices are needed to protect our loved ones.

Gov. Kate Brown, our congressional delegation, our state and local leaders, health departments, hospitals and health care providers are working at a furious pace on the pandemic response but we desperately need your help. On behalf of all members of OR-ACEP, and our health care colleagues on the front lines, we have one unified plea to our fellow Oregonians:


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