Oregon counties request trucks for bodies as deaths climb

BEND (Ore.) COVID-19 is causing a rapid rise in Oregon's death toll. The state organized the delivery of a refrigerated truck to transport the bodies and sent a second, according to the state emergency management department.
According to Bobbi Doan (a spokesperson for the Oregon Office of Emergency Management), Tillamook County on Oregon's northwest coast and Josephine County in the southwest have requested trucks.

Gordon McCraw, Tillamook County Emergency Director, wrote to the state in his request that they increase the capacity of the county's only funeral home by at least nine bodies.

He wrote that staff with COVID cases are not able to transport their storage containers to neighboring counties because of this, and added that suicides are up in the county.

Doan stated that the refrigerated truck was loaned to Klamath County on Friday.

The Tillamook County Board of Commissioners stated Friday that the spread of COVID-19 has "attained a critical stage."

They published an online statement in the Tillamook County Pioneer stating that six COVID-19-related deaths occurred in the county between Aug. 18 and Aug. 23. This was more than the five COVID-19 deaths recorded in the first 18 months.

Commissioners Mary Faith Bell and Erin Skaar stated that the COVID death rate in Tillamook County has more than doubled over the past week from five to eleven. They pleaded with residents to get vaccinated.

As the coronavirus beta variant of the coronavirus ravages Oregon's unvaccinated population, this request was made.

70% of the county's vaccination rate is either in progress or complete.

According to data from Oregon Health Authority, Josephine County's vaccination rate is 53%. This is despite the fact that hospitals in the county are overcrowded and morgues are at capacity. Unvaccinated patients are the majority of COVID-19-infected patients that clog Oregon's hospitals and intensive care units.

Continue the story

Josephine County commissioners do not promote the vaccine, unlike their counterparts from Tillamook County.

Jefferson Public Radio reported this: Josephine County Commissioner Herman Baertschiger Jr. was a former leader for the minority Republicans in Oregon's Senate and said in a meeting earlier in the month that he would not hog-tie anyone or give them a vaccine.

According to Grants Pass's county seat, hospital workers said that their morgue was overflowing due to a rise in coronavirus cases.

Asante Three Rivers Medical Center CEO Win Howard in Grants Pass stated to commissioners that "We are experiencing a serious health crisis in our community." This is the most amazing thing I have ever seen.

Jefferson Public Radio reported that the commissioners repeatedly questioned vaccine efficacy and suggested the surge could be attributed to Mexican immigrants. Instead, they promoted unproven remedies.

On Tuesday, Emily Ring, Josephine County Emergency Manager, asked for a refrigerated trailer to hold 20-48 cadavers.

She stated that the county hospital was daily exceeding its body storage capacity, and that five funeral homes and three crematoriums are on the brink of crisis daily.

She stated that Trailer should have hoists to lift her body and provide shelves.

Doan stated that morgues can legally only have a limited number of bodies at a time. Her office facilitates the transfer of a refrigerated mortuary truck from Yamhill County into Josephine County.

Doan stated that OEMs are primarily involved in air traffic control. It's almost like they have a need and a resource that can help them connect the dots through mutual assistance.

Friday's report by the Oregon Health Authority revealed 20 additional deaths. This brings the state's death toll up to 3,115.

This state has seen 268,401 coronavirus cases since the outbreak of the pandemic.


This story has been updated so that Josephine County commissioners are correct in denying the vaccine.


Andrew Selsky is on Twitter at https://twitter.com/andrewselsky