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The Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center's surge tent for COVID-19 vaccinations. Photo: Nathan Howard/Getty Images

Oregon health officials have arranged to send refrigerated trucks to two counties for storing bodies due to a surge in COVID-19 deaths, AP first reported on Saturday.

Driving the news: Tillamook County Emergency director Gordon McCraw wrote in a request that the county's only funeral home "is now consistently at or exceeding their capacity [of nine bodies]," per AP.

  • "Due to COVID cases of staff, they are unable to transport for storage to adjacent counties," added McCraw, who noted suicides had also risen.
  • Josephine County emergency manager Emily Ring said its hospital was "exceeding daily cadaver storage capacity and the five funeral homes and three crematoriums describe themselves as not yet in crisis but at the edge of crisis capacity daily," the Hill reports.

Zoom in: 70% of people in Tillamook County are either partially or fully vaccinated against the virus, compared to 53% in Josephine County, according to state health data.

  • Tillamook County's commissioners noted in a statement to the Tillamook County Pioneer on their request for a truck, which arrived Friday, that 86% of the 361 new coronavirus cases were "unvaccinated individuals."
  • Unlike Tillamook County, Josephine County's commissioners have not been promoting the vaccine despite its hospitals being overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, AP notes.

Zoom out: 59% of Oregon's population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, per Johns Hopkins University.

  • The Oregon Health Authority reported Friday 3,207 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases and 20 more deaths from the virus.
  • Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced last week a statewide outdoor mandate requiring people to wear masks in most outdoor settings regardless of vaccination status.

Go deeper

Oct 22, 2021 - Health

CDC director: U.S. may change definition of "fully vaccinated" as boosters roll out

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Friday the U.S. "may need to update" its definition for what it means to have full vaccination against COVID.

The big picture: The CDC and the FDA have officially approved boosters with every authorized vaccine in the U.S. for people who meet specific requirements. Walensky explained that since not everyone is eligible for a booster, the definition has not been changed "yet."

Oct 20, 2021 - Health

White House unveils plan to "quickly" vaccinate kids ages 5–11

Charles Muro, 13, is inoculated at Hartford Healthcare's mass vaccination center at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, Conn. Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

The White House on Wednesday released its plan to vaccinate children between the ages of 5 and 11, pending authorization from the FDA of the first COVID-19 shot for that age group.

The big picture: The White House said it has secured enough vaccine supply to equip more than 25,000 pediatric and primary care offices, hundreds of school and community health clinics, and tens of thousands of pharmacies to administer the shots.

Oct 22, 2021 - Axios Des Moines

More than 100 Polk County absentee ballot requests rejected

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

At least 130 Polk County voters submitted absentee ballot requests via mail after Monday's 5pm deadline, according to a county auditor's report provided to Axios by Polk County Democrats.

Why it matters: The Nov. 2 elections mark the first time voters head to the polls since Gov. Kim Reynolds signed new voting rules into law.

  • Shorter timeframes and far more restrictive rules could make it harder for communities of color, individuals with disabilities and elderly voters to cast ballots, groups like LULAC Iowa argue.