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Nov. 10, 2020

I know you are really tired of talking about COVID-19.  

Trust me, so am I.  

But what’s happening right now is highly concerning. We have 15 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 today, and over the weekend at times the number matched our previous record.  

It appears we have officially hit a third wave. But unlike the last two, we never reset back to zero hospitalized patients. Our number of inpatients has held steady in recent weeks until last Friday when it essentially doubled overnight.

We need to act now 

With the upcoming holidays, we are concerned that if people don’t act NOW to change their behavior our hospital system could become overwhelmed. As of today, we have the beds and the staff to take care of you, but your actions make a difference in helping to keep it that way.  

The virus is clearly still here and our choices are making a difference in how the disease finds places to thrive. We are seeing a fear-fatigue cycle of behavior. When we feel more afraid that the virus is circulating broadly in our communities, we pull back, isolate more and are better about wearing our masks.  

Sooner or later, fatigue sets in and we relax our standards, spend time with more people outside our normal bubbles and maybe don’t remember to wash our hands as frequently. It is becoming predictable. And while we are all exhausted by this pandemic, we know these next few months will be a crucial time to stay strong.  

Statewide, the highest number of cases continues to be in people ages 20-29. We also know from the Oregon Health Authority that most cases can be traced back to small, indoor social gatherings.

While we all know how difficult it is to remain isolated – especially now that the weather is turning colder and it’s harder to spend time together outdoors – it is still critically important.  

We have some advice as you start to make plans for the holidays:

• Keep it small – indoor gatherings should be immediate family only

• Keep it safe – if you choose to gather with those outside your immediate family, ask everyone to isolate for 14 days before the holiday and not to attend if they are feeling sick

• Make it special – use this time to create new traditions (hiking or snowshoeing instead of a big meal, making porch deliveries to those in need) and focus on the positives (no giant grocery bills or piles of dishes)

We understand that asking people not to gather for their traditional holiday celebrations is really hard. But we also know that Central Oregonians are strong. We will get through this by pulling together.

Please watch the latest from our #staystrongCO campaign featuring many of our local St. Charles providers to better understand what you can do to stay safe. We also encourage you to share these messages with your friends and family.

And if you’d like to know more about St. Charles’ ongoing response to COVID-19 along with other health system updates, we invite you to participate in our Town Hall event coming up on Nov. 19. You can register here. 

Sincerely,

Joe

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