Two Oregon counties experienced so many COVID-19 deaths, authorities had no choice but to store the rising number of bodies in morgue trucks on Aug. 28.
Both Tillamook and Josephine counties hired the heavy vehicles to refrigerate a growing pile of corpses.
“Due to COVID cases of staff they are unable to transport for storage to adjacent counties,” Tillamook County Emergency Director Gordon McCraw in a statement obtained by the Associated Press.
McCraw revealed there is just one funeral service provider in the jurisdiction, and it is “consistently at or exceeding their capacity” of nine bodies. At least one morgue truck arrived from Klamath County on Aug. 27.
Tillamook County Board of Commissioners confirmed the county’s daily death toll was six between Aug. 18 and 23. This was 20 percent up on total fatalities recorded in the pandemic’s first 18 months.
“In the past week, we more than doubled the number of COVID deaths in Tillamook County, from five to 11,” the board said in a statement.
Tillamook County data reveals 64.7% of the population is fully vaccinated, while 5.2% is still being immunized.
Although the proportion of vaccinated and unvaccinated deaths is unclear, vaccines are touted to prevent severe symptoms and reduce the risk of death from infection.
Meanwhile, Josephine County requested a truck capable of holding 20 to 48 cadavers on Aug. 24.
Emergency Manager Emily Ring revealed the county’s medical system, including body storage capacity reaches the “edge of crisis capacity daily.”
“Trailer must have hoists for body lifts and shelves,” she said according to the newswire service.
Oregon Health Authority data shows 53% of residents are vaccinated, including those who had either fully or partially completed the immunization process.
GOP Josephine County Commissioner Herman Baertschiger Jr. and fellow Republicans did not ask residents to receive shots. He promised not to “hog-tie anybody and give them a vaccination.”
Jefferson Public Radio said commissioners are concerned about vaccine efficiency, and discussed alternative treatments that U.S. health agencies had not approved.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services earlier revealed vaccine protection against acute illnesses and death rates could wear off within months of inoculation. This is making a future case for booster shots to be administered.
The Oregon Health Authority announced 20 new deaths on Aug. 27. This brings the total number of deaths across the Beaver State to 3,115.