More than 500 Oregonians have died of the coronavirus

By Courtney Sherwood (OPB)
Sept. 13, 2020 1 p.m. Updated: Sept. 13, 2020 7:19 p.m.

Oregon passed a grim milestone Saturday when the state passed 500 deaths to COVID-19, and officials announced another five deaths Sunday.

The Oregon Health Authority said Sunday’s deaths bring the pandemic’s toll in Oregon to 509, with one person subtracted from state’s tally after the agency determined they were actually a resident of another state.


Gov. Kate Brown on Sunday emphasized the importance of continuing to follow COVID-19 guidelines, even as Oregonians respond to wildfires in many communities and a heavy blanket of smoke across much of the state. “Protect your neighbors by wearing a face covering, keeping distance & washing hands,” she wrote on Twitter.

Oregon releases few identifying details of those who die of the virus, a concession to privacy concerns, but did share some facts about the people whose COVID-19 deaths were announced Sunday. They were:

  • An 81-year-old Marion County man who tested positive Aug. 29 and died at his home Sept. 7.
  • A 96-year-old Lane County woman who tested positive Aug. 26 and died at her home Sept. 12.
  • A 76-year-old Marion County man who tested positive Sept. 3 and died at his home Sept. 12.
  • An 89-year-old Washington County man who tested positive Sept. 4 and died at his home Sept. 12.
  • An 89-year-old Washington County woman who tested positive Aug. 31 and died at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center on Sept. 10.

“These are our family members, our friends, neighbors and colleagues,” Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen said in a written statement. “We extend our deepest condolences to every Oregonian who has suffered a loss to COVID-19.”

The state also announced 185 new confirmed and presumed COVID-19 diagnoses Sunday, bringing total known infections to 29,337.

Nearly half of Oregon’s deaths to COVID-19 — 241 of the total — have been in the greater Portland metro area’s Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties.


Another 87 people have died in Marion County and 41 in Umatilla County.

Deaths and new diagnoses have been falling in Oregon for five straight weeks. New diagnoses are down 5% in the most recent week from the prior week, according to the Oregon Health Authority, which said deaths are also dropping and a smaller percentage of people tested are coming back positive for the virus. People in their 20s continue to be the most likely to contract COVID-19, while those older than 80 make up nearly half of all Oregon deaths from the virus.

Umatilla County allowed to ease COVID-19 restrictions, Jackson and Jefferson counties removed from watchlist

Umatilla County is allowed to relax some coronavirus restrictions, effective immediately, the East Oregonian reported Friday.

That’s a reversal from the previous week, when Gov. Kate Brown and the Oregon Health Authority rejected the county’s application to enter Phase 2 of reopening. At the time, they said the county had more than 100 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents and did not meet other state metrics for easing restrictions.

Jackson and Jefferson counties have been removed from Oregon’s coronavirus watchlist, which documents the counties with the broadest spread of COVID-19, according to the Mail Tribune. The list allows the state to prioritize resources and increase monitoring. Both counties have seen improvements in transmission of the disease.

Oregon offers tips for fire evacuations while infected

As COVID-19 infections slowly climb, health officials continue to express concerns that smoke from wildfires across the Pacific Northwest could affect recovery for people infected with the virus. Evacuating from fires while battling the coronavirus also comes with its own set of concerns.

“The first priority in wildfire situations is responding to the evacuation and safety instructions of local and state fire officials — and heeding their warnings. Regardless of disease status, if you are asked or ordered to evacuate, you should do so,” the Oregon Health Authority said in a press release Thursday.

The agency also asked people evacuating while quarantining to take these precautions:

  • If you have time, reach out to your local public health authority, who should have already been in contact with you about your isolation or quarantine. They may have solutions to help you continue to remain isolated if you must evacuate.
  • If you are directed to a shelter or other evacuation space, let officials know you are in isolation or quarantine so that they can take steps to keep you distanced from other evacuees.
  • Wear a mask at all times when outside your home, or if you may come into contact with people who do not live with you.
  • If you are an older adult or a person with disabilities, reach out to the Aging and Disabilities Resource Connection for information about resources at 1-855-673-2372.
  • Practice physical distancing to the greatest extent possible, if you must travel outside your home for any reason, including evacuation.