Earlier this week, Governor Brown announced she would be convening the Oregon Legislature for a Special Session beginning on June 24. The policy agenda is a compilation of 25 policy bills to address police accountability and the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic. The Governor has the authority to call the legislature in to special session under Article V, Section 12, of the Oregon Constitution.
My hope is that we can use this special session to balance Oregon’s budget, review and weigh potential cuts to vital Oregon services, pass necessary and time sensitive policy tweaks and fixes, and deal with other negative effects of the Coronavirus closures.
Clarification on Malheur County COVID-Related Death
Last week, I shared that Malheur County had its first “COVID-related” death. I apologize for any confusion, alarm, or anger that reference caused, and I appreciate those who reached out to me with concerns. We’ve since been informed the gentleman died from a separate accident and it was only found after his passing that he tested positive for COVID-19. I referenced this as “COVID-related” because that is how it is being reported by the Oregon Health Authority.
In listening to your concerns and upon receipt of this new information, my office reached out to the OHA for clarification as to why this is classified by OHA as a “COVID-related” death. Here is the response we received:
“As a public health agency, we are not in a position to determine a cause of death; that is appropriately left to a medical examiner or a doctor caring for the patient. So, for public health statistics, we record whether an illness is associated with a death, even if perhaps it is not the cause. Thus, the numbers we publish technically mean that there was a death of a person who had a COVID-19 infection.
Falling off a ladder or being in a car crash are fairly obvious cases where the infection might not be the cause of death. However, it gets more complicated if a person had, say, a heart ailment; was the ailment or the infection the true cause? As I said, public health agencies leave that to the individual’s doctors and simply record it as a COVID-19-related death.
The technical definition of a COVID-19-related death is:
- For community: death of a confirmed or probable COVID-19 case within 60 days of the earliest available date among exposure to a confirmed case, onset of symptoms, or date of specimen collection for the first positive test; or someone with a COVID-19-specific ICD-10 code listed as a primary or contributing cause of death on a death certificate
- For hospitalized: death from any cause in a hospitalized person during admission or in the 60 days following discharge AND a COVID-19 positive laboratory diagnostic test at any time since 14 days prior to hospitalization.”
My sincerest apologies for how this information was relayed, and my deepest thoughts and prayers are with this gentleman’s family and loves ones.
House District 60 Coronavirus Update: