The Oregon Health Authority today announced a record-breaking 54 COVID-19 deaths, far in excess of the previous single-day high of 36 announced Dec. 8.

"Today's record-high death toll tragically reminds us that the pandemic is far from over despite the arrival of vaccines in Oregon," said Patrick Allen, director of the Oregon Health Authority, in a statement. "These Oregonians and the ones who passed before them were loved ones who will be dearly missed by their families, for whom we express our sincerest condolences."

The deaths did not all occur in the past 24 hours. They date back as far as Nov. 19, and the reason for the lag in reporting wasn't immediately clear. But the large number displays a surge in infections and deaths that began in mid-November and has not abated.

Today's announced deaths bring Oregon's total to 1,214 since the pandemic began. OHA also announced 1,129 new cases of the virus, bringing the total number of cases to 96,092.

The first COVID-19 vaccinations in the state are scheduled to begin tomorrow morning.