County to study emergency response
The Multnomah County Medical Examiner reported Monday that the number of deaths from last week’s record-breaking heat wave had risen to 67. The deaths were identified between June 27 and July 3, which included three straight days of record-breaking temperatures of 108, 112 and 116 in Portland.
Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury
The preliminary snapshot shows the people who died ranged in age from 44 to 97, with an average age of 68. The majority were white. Many were found in their homes, with no air conditioning or fans, official said. Statewide, a total of 107 Oregonians suffered deaths related to the heat wave, officials said.
Of the deaths in Multnomah County, 30 were formally ruled hyperthermia or death by excessive heat. The remaining cases are suspected hyperthermia.
Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury said the county will be conducting a much deeper analysis of what happened during the historic heat wave and how to plan for the future.
The county mounted what it called an all-hands-on-deck public health response to the heat crisis.
Three 24-hour cooling centers were opened and officials said they contacted tens of thousands of vulnerable elders, people with disabilities and pregnant women, distributing hundreds of fans and sending more than 60 outreach teams into the field to reach people experiencing homelessness.
The additional investigation into “this mass casualty event is needed to bring what is still a very blurry picture into sharp focus,” officials said.