State Reports Record 54 Covid-19 Deaths as Vaccinations Begin

As many of Oregon’s front-line health workers prepare to receive their first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine Wednesday morning, state health officials on Tuesday reported a single-day record of 54 new deaths due to the virus — including two in Clackamas County.

Oregon’s death toll now stands at 1,214 people. The previous record for Covid-19 deaths in Oregon was 36, set one week ago on Dec. 8.

“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, according to state health officials.

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, OHA said in a press release.

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

Even as the vaccine is gradually proliferated throughout the population, state officials urge Oregonians to continue to follow the now-standard public health guidance: wear a mask, wash your hands, avoid large gatherings and maintain your distance from those outside your household.

“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,” OHA said in the release.

“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.”

Local mental and emotional health resources for support can be found at, or by calling 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.

The milestone comes amid the news that Oregon hospitals are scheduled to begin administering Covid-19 vaccinations to front-line health care workers on Wednesday morning.

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 available here.

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