New Oregon Figures Appear to Show “Excess Deaths” Declining

Earlier in the pandemic, the number of Oregon deaths exceeded normal totals, even after adding in reported COVID-19 fatalities.

Holy Taco in Lake Oswego's downtown shopping center. (Alex Wittwer)

The Oregon Health Authority has released new data that appears to show the number of unexplained deaths in the state has declined.

Last month, as WW and other media reported, Oregon had a significant number of deaths above the typical count, even adjusted for deaths reportedly caused by COVID-19. That matched a pattern reported in much of the country.

Related: Oregon Has Hundreds of Excess Deaths, Suggesting a Hidden COVID-19 Toll. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has taken a look at the phenomenon nationally.

The implication of the excess deaths was that, for a variety of reasons, more people were dying from COVID-19 than was reflected in official statistics.

But data for the first couple of weeks of May shows the number of unexplained deaths in Oregon has dropped sharply, and reverted to historical norms.

Here's the explanation from OHA:

"Overall mortality exceeded three- and five-year historical averages by as much as 13 percent during weeks 12 through 20 of 2020, overlapping with peaks of peak COVID-19 incidence in Oregon," the agency says. "Then, overall weekly mortality roughly equaled historical averages in weeks 19 and 20 at a time when reported COVID-19 incidence began to decline."

There are plenty of caveats in the statistics, most notably a lag in the recording of death reports, but the numbers of deaths from COVID-19 and all causes are declining.

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