Oregon counties request storage for bodies as COVID-19 deaths spike

Two counties in Oregon have requested refrigerated trucks to store bodies amid a spike in coronavirus deaths.  

Tillamook County and Josephine County placed requests for the trucks earlier this week according to request forms provided to The Hill. A truck for Tillamook arrived on Friday, and officials are working to secure resources for Josephine County.

News of the extra storage for Oregon counties was first reported by The Associated Press.

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In her request form, Josephine County Emergency manager Emily Ring said that the county hospital was “exceeding daily cadaver storage capacity and the 5 funeral homes and 3 crematoriums describe themselves as not yet in crisis but at the edge of crisis capacity daily.”

Gordon McCraw, Tillamook County emergency manager, noted to officials in his request that their sole county funeral home “is now consistently at or exceeding their capacity of 9.” McCraw noted that motor vehicle crashes and suicides had also contributed to a recent increase in fatalities in the county.

According to state data, 70 percent of Tillamook's population aged 18 years and older are vaccinated while 53 percent are vaccinated in Josephine. Fifty-nine percent of the state's population is fully vaccinated, according to Johns Hopkins University data

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that the state saw 2,046 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday. By comparison, cases were in the double digits and low hundreds in June and July.

Earlier this month, Oregon implemented an indoor mask mandate regardless of vaccination status amid a rising number of cases. The state later announced an outdoor mask mandate — the first state to do so.