(Kezia Setyawan/Malheur Enterprise)
The Oregon Health Authority will no longer list details of individual Covid-related deaths in its daily updates on the pandemic in Oregon, saying the process of verifying information has become too time-consuming as the state's death toll rises.
Previously, the health authority had listed the age, county of residence, date of positive Covid test, date of death, presence of underlying health conditions and location of death for each Oregonian in daily email updates.
"Oregon’s 1,893rd COVID-19 death is a 58-year-old man in Marion County who tested positive on Dec. 31 and died on Jan. 21 at Salem Hospital. He had underlying conditions," read one such report from OHA's Jan. 26 update.
"As the death toll from the virus has climbed, validating and reporting each death has had an impact on our daily reporting," OHA director Pat Allen said in a statement.
Some of that information will be available on a new data dashboard on the health authority website, which lists the number of Covid deaths by week, along with a breakdown by age and whether the deceased person lived in a congregate setting or had underlying conditions. The dashboard will be updated daily, OHA said.
But the change will make it more difficult to get a picture of individual Covid deaths. The reported death of a 32-year-old man in Marion County earlier in January - the youngest Covid-related death to date in the Salem area - would now be added to the dashboard as one death in the 30-39 age group. There would be no way to tell whether a younger Oregonian who died with Covid had underlying health conditions, or the exact ages of elderly Oregonians who still face a weeks-long wait for the vaccine in most of the state.
"This dashboard offers the public a clearer picture of the collective toll the virus has taken. But it will never detract from the importance of each Oregonian who is no longer with us," Allen said in a statement.
The agency announced the change in its daily report Wednesday.