COVID death count continues to rise

·2 min read

Oct. 19—COVID-19 continues to take a tragic toll on Coos County.

Coos Health & Wellness reported five additional deaths in the last week, bringing the total number of COVID-linked deaths since the pandemic began to 91. Of that total, 53 have been reported in the last three months, since the Delta variant began moving through the county.

Among the most recent deaths was the youngest person in Coos County, a 35-year-old man whose death was announced Wednesday. The man had underlying conditions.

Katrinka McReynolds with Coos Health & Wellness said privacy laws prevent the state from releasing any more information. She did, however, explain under state rules underlying conditions range from people with cancer, kidney disease or dementia to those who are considered obese, pregnant or have ever smoked or used drugs.

"Most of these are not something you're going to die from anytime soon," McReynolds said. "It truly is an array of a lot of things. It doesn't mean they should have died."

As of Thursday, there were 327 active cases in the county, with 384 people being monitored.

Coos Health & Wellness also reported Thursday that there have been 358 breakthrough cases countywide, or about 1 percent of the 36,000 people who have been vaccinated. Cases among those unvaccinated in Oregon show around 10 percent of the unvaccinated have caught COVID.

With the increase in cases in recent months, record numbers were reported in August and September, there have also been a record number of deaths.

Becky Fairhurst with Coos Health & Wellness said the deaths are directly linked to the increase in cases.

"There's a lot more cases now," Fairhurst said. "Since the beginning to today, a lot of it has occurred in the last two months. The vaccine definitely plays into who gets sick."

And getting sick for some has proven to be a death sentence.

"We've had 12 in October, that's almost one a day," McReynolds said. "These are very difficult numbers for us to talk about because we don't want to see any unnecessary deaths."

McReynolds said the rise in cases and deaths is especially frustrating because there are proven ways to keep COVID in check.

"Right now, the best tool available to us is vaccines followed by masking, distancing and small groups," McReynolds said. "If we continue to use the best tools, we can keep the numbers down. But that requires all of us working together."

In October, cases have begun to decrease with an average of 24 cases a day. While that is lower than August and September, it remains higher than any other month in the pandemic. Before Delta arrived, the highest case count was in February of this year, when the county averaged 15 cases a day.

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