Oregon sets another new record for deaths as vaccines arrive

We are saddened that Oregon Health Authority has 54 new deaths to report, setting a record for the most deaths reported by Oregon in one day, December 15th. 

Today’s record-high death toll tragically reminds us that the pandemic is far from over despite the arrival of vaccines in Oregon,” said Patrick Allen, director of the Oregon Health Authority. “These Oregonians and the ones who passed before them were loved ones who will be dearly missed by their families, for whom we express our sincerest condolences.”

The rising case count that surged in November is one factor attributed to today’s record-high death count. The counting of deaths from death certificates may take time to process because they are determined by physicians and then sent to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for further review before the cause of death is ultimately determined.  Once this information is confirmed, the information is reported back with a final cause of death to states. This lagging indicator is now being captured today.

Oregonians can continue to work together to prevent more lives being lost to the virus by doing the following:

  • Maintain six feet of physical distance
  • Wear a face covering when outside the house
  • Practice good hand hygiene
  • Avoid any gatherings with non-household members
  • If you start to have symptoms — even mild ones — consult with a medical provider quickly to get instructions on how to care for yourself and your household members and also whether to get tested
  • And finally, if you get a call from public health, answer it, and take their advice on how to protect yourself and those around you

We know this news can be disheartening. It’s OK to ask for help. COVID-19 has changed our lives, and it can feel difficult for anyone. There’s support for you and the people you love.

Local mental and emotional health resources for support can be found at Safe + Strong or you can call the Safe + Strong Helpline at 1-800-923-HELP (4357). The line offers free, 24-7 emotional support and resource referral to anyone who needs it – not only those experiencing a mental health crisis. (800-923-HELP).

graphic with safe and strong contact info

Oregonians scheduled to receive COVID-19 vaccine today, December 16th

Today, December 16th Oregon hospitals are scheduled to begin administering COVID-19 vaccinations to frontline health care workers. Governor Kate Brown will be joined by representatives from the Oregon Health Authority and Oregon hospitals, including Legacy Health, Oregon Health & Science University, and Saint Alphonsus in Ontario at 11 a.m. tomorrow. A livestream of the event will be viewable here

doctor in white coat with mask gloves and vaccine box

Doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are unboxed and transferred to the freezer at Saint Alphonsus Medical Center – Ontario. 

Coming Thursday: Facebook Live on COVID-19 vaccine

The first COVID-19 vaccine doses have arrived in Oregon, and with them, many questions. Join us Thursday, December 17 at 2:30 p.m. to hear more about the COVID-19 vaccines, Oregon’s distribution plans and to have your questions answered by our experts directly.

The Facebook Live will be available in English and in Spanish.

Readers share: How you’re celebrating safely this holiday season

Planning for the holidays looks different this year, but many Coronavirus Update readers are up to the challenge. Here are some creative ideas that readers shared:

  • “This year we are crafting virtual. I did a porch drop of plaster ornaments to family in my town and mailed boxes to those that are out of the area. We are all going to meet up on Zoom, with our hot chocolate and holiday cookies, and paint.”
  • “My neighborhood and others on NextDoor are going to ring bells from our porches at 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Spread some joy!”
  • “Our family is making a playlist of holiday songs together as a way to celebrate while being physically separated.”
  • “Zoom open house. I did it for Thanksgiving too. I had family and friends from all over the world visit.”
  • “Instead of a secret gift exchange we will do a charity exchange. We will give to a charity in the name of the person whose name is drawn from ‘the hat.’ We will gather via the internet and tell one another whose name we drew and why we chose the charity for them.”

don't gift mom covid for the holidays masks save lives

County risk levels updated; 29 now in extreme risk category

Governor Kate Brown announced updates to county risk levels. The framework uses four different risk levels for counties based on COVID-19 spread—Extreme Risk, High Risk, Moderate Risk, and Lower Risk—and assigns health and safety measures for each level.  Effective Dec. 18 through Dec. 31, 29 counties will be in the Extreme Risk level, one county at Moderate Risk, and six counties at Lower Risk. See the full list here. 

OHA examines and publishes county data weekly. County risk levels are reassigned every two weeks. The first week’s data provide a “warning week” to prepare counties for potential risk level changes. The next assignment of risk levels will take effect Jan. 1.  Updates to Warning Week data and county risk levels will be posted to coronavirus.oregon.gov. Learn more into today’s news release.