Oregon’s Heat Wave Death Toll Climbs to 116
In an update from the state medical examiner, nine additional deaths were reported.
The youngest victim of what county officials have referred to as a "mass casualty event," was 37 and the oldest was 97.
Temperatures in Portland hit 112 degrees Fahrenheit Sunday, smashing the all-time record of 108 degrees, set just a day earlier.
In a Tuesday statement, the county said that final accounting for deaths in the region between June 25 and June 30 and toxicology reports "could take months," noting that on June 28 the Multnomah County Medical Examiner Program responded to four times the typical number of deaths.
"As of Tuesday, July 6, the Multnomah County Medical Examiner Program has identified 67 deaths in which the suspected cause of death is hyperthermia. Of those, 40 have been formally ruled hyperthermia deaths. The people who died ranged in age from 44 to 97; with an average age of 68," the county said.
In response, Multnomah County’s Emergency Management, Health Department and County Human Services and other staff will conduct an after-action report to "more effectively target resources in future events" and update County Extreme Heat Standard Operating procedure as needed.
Gov. Kate Brown also directed agencies to study how Oregon can improve its response to record-breaking heat and directed Oregon Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) to enact emergency rules to protect the state's workers.
The governor vowed to meet with agency heads, county leaders, Oregon’s Medicaid Coordinated Care Organizations and impacted communities over the next several weeks in addition to directing state agencies to complete an after-action review.
On Wednesday, Brown said she had met with OEM Director Andrew Phelps and directed the agency to "expedite their review process" in assessing state and local response efforts.
"We must do everything we can to be better prepared for these types of weather events by making sure vulnerable Oregonians are connected to information and available resources, and that all Oregonians are prepared for severe weather events," she wrote.