Weather Alert

59 Heat-Related Deaths In Multnomah County

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Multnomah County Medical Examiner updated the death toll on Friday from last weekend’s excessive heat to 59 people.

“We deeply hope these numbers will not climb, but we also know that it will take several more days before the full toll is known. The same isolation that puts people at risk for a heat-related death may delay whether we find out if someone succumbed,” said Chair Deborah Kafoury.

The victims range in age from 44 to 97 and two-thirds were men.  Many had underlying health conditions and died alone without air conditioning or a fan.  The overwhelming majority are said to have died in their homes.

The preliminary cause of death is hyperthermia, or an abnormally high body temperature.  Statewide, there were only 12 deaths from hyperthermia from 2017 to 2019.

“This was a true health crisis that has underscored how deadly an extreme heat wave can be, especially to otherwise vulnerable people,” said Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines.

The heat wave has now claimed more than 85 lives statewide.

Between Friday and Monday, more than 130 people in the county visited the hospital after getting sick in the heat.  Officials recorded the highest-ever number of 911 calls for medical emergencies over the weekend.  Hospitals reported two to five times the number of cases of cardiac arrests.

Two dogs are believed to have died from the heat as well.  There were 28 times the normal amount of calls to Multnomah County Animal Services between Friday and Tuesday.

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