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Oregon surpasses 2,000 deaths related to COVID-19

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This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (orange)—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (green) cultured in the lab.

As Oregon ramps up vaccine distribution, the state's death toll continues to climb.

Nearly a year after Oregon reported its first confirmed case of COVID-19, the state has hit a sad milestone: more than 2,000 people have died from the global pandemic. Nationally, the virus has claimed 450,000 in the last year. Officially, Oregon’s COVID-19 death toll through Friday, is 2,002.

In a statement, OHA director Patrick Allen acknowledged the losses many families are dealing with.

“Many of us have seen family, friends or neighbors die from COVID-19. Or we know people who have lost loved ones,” Allen said.

“And each death keeps us focused on preventing others from dying. As I said at the outset, Oregonians have made a difference: While every death is tragic and preventable, your sacrifices have prevented the deaths of thousands more.”

Deaths related to coronavirus spiked in the late fall and early winter in Oregon, with OHA reporting at least 100 deaths per week from late November through the first week of January. Deaths appear to be declining since then, with the state reporting 57 deaths related to COVID-19 the week ending Jan. 24.

The state is also reporting an upward trend in vaccinations and tests showing that the spread of the virus may be coming under better control. Oregon officials reported an additional 22,724 doses of vaccine Friday. At the same time, state officials expressed optimism for even quicker vaccine distribution in the coming weeks.

In another positive sign, COVID-19 case numbers have leveled off recently, with the state reporting 846 new cases of the virus Friday. OHA has reported a 5.9% test positivity rate through Jan. 10, the most recent week for which the state has data.

The effects of the pandemic in Oregon remain profound, however. School officials continue to wrestle with questions around whether or how to resume in-person instruction safely. At the same time, businesses are looking into how to resume functioning as vaccines become more available, and the state take steps to relax some of its COVID-19 restrictions.

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Rob Manning is a news editor at Oregon Public Broadcasting, with oversight of reporters covering education, healthcare and business. Rob became an editor in 2019, following about 15 years covering schools and universities in Oregon and southwest Washington as OPB’s education reporter.