PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Just a day after Oregon officials said they’re examining the state’s response to the historic heat wave that left more than 115 people dead last month, Multnomah County leaders released their preliminary report reviewing their response.
Commission Chair Deborah Kafoury said that the county was working toward finding solutions to prevent the deaths from happening again.
“In this report, and in the even deeper reviews you will see in coming months, we will find the lessons,” Chair Deborah Kafoury said.
Kafoury also said that climate change played a large role in the deaths.
“We need to work together as humans to save our planet right now,” she said.
Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines said the county was prepared for a surge of deaths due to COVID, but never expected to death with a high death toll from heat.
Vines said there were 71 suspected heath deaths, with 54 confirmed as of July 9. The ages of the dead ranged from 48 – 97 average with the average age of 70. All but 4 identified as white, Vines said.
The majority died at home. Half were in apartments, about a third in their homes and some in RVs and mobile homes. 7 had unplugged air conditioners.
“Lack of air conditioning was a key driver in mortality. Whereas about 80 percent of people in the Portland area have some level of air conditioning in their homes — and about 50 percent have central air — none of those who died had central air, and only eight people had a portable air conditioning unit in their home,” the preliminary report stated.
The deaths happened all over the county. Almost every zip covid had a death.
Emergency Management Director Chris Voss said the county is examining how many cooling centers should be open in the future. Transportation to the shelters is also being looked at.