Oregon passed a bleak milestone today, announcing deaths 100 and 101 from the novel coronavirus.
But the more significant data about COVID-19 was released without fanfare Tuesday afternoon: The Oregon Health Authority disclosed comorbidity data, or underlying conditions, for COVID-19 deaths in the state.
The data show that nearly 6 in 10 of the victims of COVID-19 suffered from heart disease. Nearly 1 in 3 had diabetes. Almost a quarter of the deaths are of former smokers, but just one out of the 73 cases the OHA reviewed was a current smoker at the time they contracted the virus.
The comorbidity data only accounts for 73 deaths, not the full 101. And there's significant evidence that many more people have died of COVID-19 than the state has confirmed, as WW first reported today. The state has had hundreds of excess deaths so far in 2020. Some believe this indicates unaccounted-for COVID-19 deaths.
Still, the new numbers are a significant step forward from OHA's previous releases—which stated only that nearly every COVID-19 fatality suffered from "underlying conditions." (That term could be unnecessarily worrying or falsely reassuring, depending on your disposition.)
Here's how those underlying conditions break down among fatalities from COVID-19 in the state (please note: Decedents may have had more than one of these conditions).
Cardiovascular disease: 43 cases (58.9 percent)
Neurological/neurodevelopment: 36 cases (49.3 percent)
Diabetes: 24 cases (32.9 percent)
Lung disease: 21 cases (28.8 percent)
Former smoker: 18 cases (24.7 percent)
Renal disease: 18 cases (24.7 percent)
Immunocompromised condition: 13 cases (17.8 percent)
Liver disease: 5 cases (6.8 percent)
Obesity: 3 cases (4.1 percent)
Smoker: 1 cases (1.4 percent)
Other: 31 cases (42.5 percent)
The Oregonian was among outlets that reported the new data.
While the comorbidity today released yesterday is helpful in understanding the factors that contribute to COVID-19 fatalities, a lot of information is still unknown: Over 40 percent of the people who died from the virus had conditions marked as "other." It is unclear what those conditions might be, and whether they played a role in the person's death.
What is clear is that the virus is deadlier for the elderly. The latest data from the OHA shows that most people in the state who died from COVID-19 were 70 or older.