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Story by CBS News - Story Source
Published on Sunday August 29, 2021 - 7:00 AM
 
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BEND, Ore. (AP) The death toll from COVID-19 in Oregon is climbing so rapidly that two counties have requested refrigerated trucks to hold the bodies, the state emergency management department said Saturday.

So far, Tillamook County, on Oregon's northwest coast, and Josephine County, in the southwest, have requested the trucks, said Bobbi Doan, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Office of Emergency Management.

Tillamook County Emergency Director Gordon McCraw wrote in his request to the state that the county's sole funeral home "is now consistently at or exceeding their capacity" of nine bodies.

"Due to COVID cases of staff, they are unable to transport for storage to adjacent counties," he wrote, adding that suicides are also up in the county.

The refrigerated truck arrived in the county on Friday, loaned by Klamath County, Doan said in a telephone interview.

The Tillamook County Board of Commissioners said Friday the spread of COVID-19 "has reached a critical phase." In a statement published online in the Tillamook County Pioneer, they said that from August 18 to August 23, there were six new COVID-19 deaths in the county, surpassing the five total COVID-19 deaths that occurred during the first 18 months of the pandemic.

In the past week, we more than doubled the number of COVID deaths in Tillamook County, from five to eleven," Commissioners Mary Faith Bell, David Yamamoto and Erin Skaar wrote. They begged residents: "Please get vaccinated."

The request come as the coronavirus delta variant tears through Oregon's unvaccinated population. The county vaccination rate is 70%, either in progress or fully vaccinated.

But in Josephine County, where hospitals are overwhelmed and its morgues are also reaching capacity, the vaccination rate is only 53%, according to Oregon Health Authority data. The vast majority of COVID-19 patients clogging the state's hospitals and intensive care units are unvaccinated...