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Give thanks for health care workers by staying home this holiday, head of Washington hospital system says

Health officials continue to urge people to avoid large gatherings as COVID-19 cases rise heading into the holiday season.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The coronavirus numbers keep climbing. New cases mean more sick people, and more people needing hospitals and health care workers to recover.

“Thankfully, Oregon is still one of the lowest states in the nation for case rates," said Dr. Tom Jeanne, a deputy health officer with the Oregon Health Authority. 

But the epidemiologist added, “It's certainly high enough and climbing fast enough that we should all be concerned about it and doing everything we can to stop the spread.”

Oregon started setting records for new cases and went on a run in the past week, starting on Nov. 18 with 1,099 cases reported from the day before, followed by reported new case numbers of 1,225 and 1,306, 1,509 and 1,517 in the following consecutive days, before finally dropping to 1,174 new cases for Sunday, a day where reporting is usually lower.

RELATED: 6 more COVID-19 deaths in Oregon; 1,174 new cases

Washington state has been skyrocketing as well, with new cases over 1,000 every day since Nov. 4, and sometimes way over, as high as 3,237 new cases reported on Nov. 16. And it's showing up in hospitalizations. The last official report from Nov. 20 shows 784 patients hospitalized, climbing from 651 just four days earlier. Preliminary reports put the number at over 900 on Monday.

“I'm very worried, the cases of COVID are going up pretty dramatically,” said Cassie Sauer, CEO of the Washington State Hospital Association. 

She said there may be more beds available, but health care workers are in short supply and burned out. Sauer said the best "thank you" we can give them is to not get sick.

“And not getting sick means staying home," she said. "It means do not have a Thanksgiving party, do not have a football party, do not have a sleepover for your kids. Stay in your home, stay in your bubble, follow the science, so those [health care workers] don't have to take care of you, because they're exhausted and they don't need more people to take care of,” said Sauer.

Dr. Jeanne from the Oregon Health Authority agrees.

“We're nine, 10 months into this now, but if we can hang in there for just a few more months, I think things are going to look a lot better in winter and spring," he said. "And so our message is stay strong and keep up the hard work."

There is true appreciation for everyone who is doing the right things to fight this virus. For those who are not, health officials said right now is the time to give everyone a gift and start.

RELATED: Tips for safely celebrating Thanksgiving amid COVID-19 pandemic