A man with a mask hands a paper sack to another man, who is obviously sweating in the heat
A community member donates a bag of refreshments to a man sitting outside during the heatwave. Mathieu Lewis-Rolland

Update July 6, 8:50 am:

At least 64 people died due to the record-breaking heatwave, the Multnomah County Medical Examiner announced over the weekend. Of those 64 deaths, 30 have been formally ruled hyperthermia—death by excessive heat—and the remaining cases are suspected hyperthermia.

The county will be conducting an analysis of what happened during the heatwave in order to plan for future events, according to a county press release.

Update July 2, 11 am:

The Multnomah County Medical Examiner has identified 59 heat-related deaths in the county since June 25. Of those deaths, 20 have been formally ruled as hyperthermia deaths while the others are suspected.

“We deeply hope these numbers will not climb, but we also know that it will take several more days before the full toll is known," Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury said in a press release. "The same isolation that puts people at risk for a heat-related death may delay whether we find out if someone succumbed. Please continue to check on your neighbors.”

The county is unable to confirm how many of the people who died were experiencing homelessness until it completes an investigation of all of the deaths. That investigation has been started and the findings will be shared with the public once it is complete.

“We share the public’s interest in understanding the circumstances that caused these deaths, and we’ll be looking closely for any trends that can help us target prevention and outreach in future heat events to protect vulnerable residents,’’ said Multnomah County Health Officer Jennifer Vines.

Update July 1, 3:50 pm:

The state medical examiner believes 79 people died in Oregon due to the heatwave. According to data obtained by The Oregonian, 53 of those deaths occurred in Multnomah County.

Update July 1, 3 pm:

The Multnomah County medical examiner has identified six additional heat-related deaths, bringing the total heatwave death toll to at least 51 people in Multnomah County, according to a county statement.

The Oregon Medical Examiner's Office is expected to release an updated list of heatwave-related deaths later today.

Original story:

County officials have identified 45 deaths in Multnomah County related to excessive heat since Friday, June 25.

According to the Multnomah County Medical Examiner Program, the people ranged in age from 44 to 97, and many were found alone without air conditioning or a fan. The preliminary cause of death for all 45 people is hyperthermia, or an abnormally high body temperature.

Comparatively, from 2017 to 2019, Oregon recorded 12 deaths from hyperthermia.

“I know many county residents were looking out for each other and am deeply saddened by this initial death toll,” said Multnomah County Health Officer Jennifer Vines in a press release. “As our summers continue to get warmer, I suspect we will face this kind of event again.’’

Portland broke high temperature records for three consecutive days during the heatwave, causing a strain on local emergency systems. There were 491 calls to 911 for medical assistance on June 28—the highest-ever number of 911 medical calls ever recorded in Multnomah County. Additionally, between Friday, June 25, and Monday, June 28, there were 131 emergency department and urgent care visits for heat illness in Multnomah County—normally the county would see one visit during the same time period.

The three county cooling centers hosted 1,040 people overnight and saw hundreds more during the day, according to county officials. Additionally, 7,610 people visited the open library branches to cool down.

There were nearly 60 teams of outreach workers and volunteers passing out water, electrolyte packages, and cooling towels to people experiencing homelessness throughout the county. The county reports distributing more than 60,000 bottles of water throughout the heatwave, at one point distributing 18,000 bottles within four hours.

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Calls to Animal Services for animals in crisis increased by 300 percent during the heat event. Two adult dogs died due to the heat.

It’s possible that the death toll from the heatwave will continue to rise. It is also not possible to determine how many of the people who died were unhoused until the county completes its investigation.

At least 63 people died due to the heat statewide, according to the state medical examiner.

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