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Oregon reports 54 more COVID-19-related deaths

The Oregon Health Authority reported 54 deaths from COVID-19 Tuesday, tying a daily record set in mid-December. One of the deaths was in Jackson County.

The cases raised Oregon’s death toll from the illness to 1,667, including 81 in Jackson County.

State health officials attributed the spike in deaths to a surge in cases across the state in November and December.

“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,” according to a news release. “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.”

The Jackson County death involved a 79-year-old woman who tested positive for the illness Dec. 18 and died Dec. 26 at her home.

OHA reported 1,203 new cases of the disease Tuesday, raising Oregon’s total to 127,780 cases. Jackson County reported 61 new cases Tuesday, raising the county’s cumulative total to 6,629.

Forty-six people were hospitalized with the disease in Jackson and Josephine counties Tuesday, with 15 in intensive care, county officials said.

Both counties are in the “extreme risk” category, meaning their rates of case transmission was more than 200 per 100,000 people, while the test positivity rate was more than 10%, both over a two-week period, according to state metrics.

As of Tuesday, 115,060 COVID-19 vaccines, including first and second doses, had been administered in the state, with 3,966 vaccinations in Jackson County, according to OHA.

Gov. Kate Brown announced a statewide expansion of its vaccine program to include all residents 65 and older. Vaccination of Oregon seniors, child care providers and early learning and K-12 educators and staff are scheduled to start Jan. 23, when more vaccine shipments from the federal government are expected to arrive. The decision follows updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control.

“While this is an unexpected change in course from the federal government, receiving more vaccines is welcome news for states — and Oregon is ready to devote all resources necessary to ramp up distribution with our health care partners,” Brown said in the news release. “The Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon National Guard have already begun working with hospitals, pharmacies and local public health partners to ensure Oregon seniors and educators have ready access to a vaccine. We will be detailing plans Friday for the rapid deployment of vaccines to health care providers and mass vaccination sites across Oregon.”

Brown added that Oregon health care providers “are working as fast as humanly possible to shift their vaccine distribution plans to meet this sudden change in national guidance.”