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Knopp, Zika criticize OHA for no longer releasing some COVID-19 death information

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Oregon Health Authority now says it will no longer provide details about individual cases of people with COVID-19 who have died.

The information in daily OHA releases since the pandemic hit last spring had included the county where the person lived, their age and gender, when they tested positive and when and where they passed away, as well as whether the person had underlying conditions.

Instead, OHA says it will share information on its dashboards about trends, underlying conditions and COVID-19 symptoms those who died had experienced. County tallies also will be updated with newly reported deaths.

The move has sparked some backlash, including among state lawmakers.

State Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, questioned OHA officials on the matter at a virtual budget hearing on Thursday.

"There's a report that OHA had decided to change the way they were going to change the way they talk about or provide information about deaths, as it relates to COVID-19," Knopp said. "So my question is, is that true -- and if it's true, how does less transparency coordinate with the value statements of transparency?"

OHA Director Patrick Allen said that detailing individual deaths on a daily basis consumed a great deal of staff time.

"I think what we're doing is trying to be smart about how we provide good information to Oregonians," Allen said. "We're improving the quality and depth of the information, but doing it in a way that allows our epidemiologists to not spend time vetting press releases and instead spend time trying to figure out how to deal with new variants of the disease or effectiveness of treatments and those kinds of things."

State Rep. Jack Zika, R-Redmond, is also among those troubled by the changes.

"I understand that they think it's too time-consuming, but we are in a pandemic, and information is key," Zika said, voicing his frustration.

"What also troubles me is that in the article that I read, Governor Brown issued a statement saying that she wants them to give out all the information, except for patient privacy," Zika said. "So that would include what they have currently been doing, so I don't know why OHA has decided to do this."

Deschutes County Health Services epidemiologist Dr. Jennifer Faith said the county will begin providing new information on its website.

"Starting today, in our weekly epidemiology report, we do have that cumulative number, but we're also going to providing the specific age breakdowns," she said.

Faith added that she feels the new information provided by OHA is useful.

"“The press releases did just have a sort of general statement about the person did or did not have underlying conditions, and I think this provides more detail,” Faith said.

But the Oregon House GOP leader also voiced sharp criticism in a news release issued late Thursday:

House Republican Leader Urges Governor Brown, OHA to Reverse Decision to Limit COVID-19 Information and Statistics

Salem, Ore - House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) issued the following statement in response to the Oregon Health Authority’s decision to limit the release of critical COVID-19 information.

“Yesterday, the Oregon Health Authority announced suddenly that the agency would no longer publicize key information related to COVID-19 deaths in Oregon. This information has been released daily for months without incident and is critical to allowing the public to understand how and who the virus is impacting.

“Oregonians have been asked to sacrifice so much in so many ways, they deserve access to all relevant available information.

“The decision to suspend access to key information calls into question the Governor’s commitment to transparency and accountability at a time when state-level decisions have made Oregon a national outlier by ignoring CDC guidelines and dismissing a science-based approach to vaccine distribution. In order to maintain trust and preserve transparency, Governor Brown and OHA must reverse yesterday’s decision and commit to providing clear, consistent and timely data in all categories moving forward.”

Bend / Central Oregon / Coronavirus / Redmond / Top Stories
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Blake Allen

Blake Allen is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Blake here.

Comments

45 Comments

  1. How many did they assume were covid and that was not the truth. Heard NY’s ding a ling Governor may have underreported less than 50% he put in nursing homes that died.

      1. No mystery here- putting elderly citizens in rooms full of virus infected patrons is a criminal act ! Maybe you can explain why NY Governor Cuomo did it- then tried to cover it up… that right there is your “Thunderdome” !

      2. Looking for things that aren’t there are ya? The only one making claims here is you – he asked a legitimate question and repeated the morning news report in his two sentences.

  2. My, my, now that Trump is gone all of a sudden they decide to stop the death count, open business, and send kids to school that. Lol, we all knew this was going to happen. MSM is bought and paid for, and a big joke! The truth is coming. God is watching you.

    1. If you believe in the Judeo-Christian version of “god” that ostensibly all Trump supporters do, I have REALLY bad news about what’s written in the Bible. But, no, keep on being a racist, hateful hypocrite. Jesus would hate it, but keep on hating.

  3. OHA knows that after a year of reading about Covid claiming the lives of elderly and those with underlying health conditions, we may start to become less afraid…..And they can’t have that. We must stay scared and in our basements and believing it can kill any of us. After a year of it now we are starting to see statistics that you have a greater chance of being hit by lightening….6 times! than you do of dying from Covid if you are not elderly or have underlying severe health conditions.

    1. “About four in ten adults (37.6%) ages 18 and older in the U.S. (92.6 million people) have a higher risk of developing serious illness if they become infected with coronavirus, due to their older age (65 and older) or health condition.” Kaiser FF

    1. By constantly changing how data is released, the public is unable to monitor nor discern trends in policy decisions and the associated impacts on vulnerable communities. If one keeping changing the goal lines, one never really knows if we are making progress.

  4. I find it interesting that this happens after Kate Brown declares education is more important than vulnerable seniors lives. I think she doesn’t want us to find an easy count of how many seniors die before any teachers die!

    1. The only teachers that may die from Covid are elderly or those with severe underlying conditions that haven’t gotten the vaccine…And there’s not too many of those in our education system.

    2. Maybe you ought to read the comments section in today’s Bulletin. There were many happy to wait another week and feel that they might be helping get our children back to school. It seems there are a lot of good people out there in spite of what you read on here.

  5. CNN isn’t running the death tolls anymore either. That’s because they’re declining and not much of an issue and they must get the masses vaccinated.

    1. Well, Worldometers is still reporting and yesterday in the US: 162,633 new cases and 3,919 new deaths. 444,000+ total deaths. What is declining or not an issue?

  6. To claim it takes staff time to compile the data belittles the fact that it can be done by less than a a Full Time Equivalent (FTE in government speak). OHA is adequately staff to continue to provide this detailed information that 1) does not violate HIPAA guidelines, 2) provides information for the public to see where the COVID-19 is impacting diverse communities, and 3) allow voters to truly see if the State of Oregon is being transparent. This change smacks highly of a retreat from keeping the public informed and appears simply an attempt to change the optics on bypassing high risk patients in an attempt to rush the opening of schools. One imagines that as schools are opened, information about super-spreader events at those schools will not see the light of day from OHA or local school leadership.

  7. Now that we have a puppet in the WH who will sign anything because he doesn’t know what he signed, can now relax he will get er done. And his lie about taxes is going to hit you in the ass.

      1. No conspiracy Martha- you been conned ! From KTVZ’s “other” newsroom- “Dr. Anthony Fauci backed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) findings that suggest schools can reopen safely during the coronavirus pandemic, despite President Biden’s chief of staff previously downplaying the positive scientific research.” “In an interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Thursday, Fauci was asked if schools should be open given the CDC research that found coronavirus transmission at schools was very low when mask-wearing and social distancing measures were taken.”….”I would back the CDC recommendations because that is really based on data,” Fauci”… Fauci has flip-flopped- back-peddled- and played you all like ignorant fools for a year ! What he’s not revealing- is his direct role in creating this global pandemic- his involvement in the Wuhan China Labs “Gain of Function Research” that Obama took away from him in 2014- that he then sold to China- the rest is factual history and no amount of denying the truth will prevent that !

      1. Which of those points is factually incorrect? Personal attacks usually are a result of not having anything else to go with.
        I am not saying either way if those points are correct, I’m just trying to help you out despite the fact of your obvious high education.

  8. Looks like a lot of angry conspiratorial types didn’t even read the article before spouting off a political diatribe. It is simple- age, gender and if they had underlying conditions (all most all humans do) really isn’t important. What is important is they contracted COVID-19 and died. If they hadn’t contracted it they would be alive. I prefer to let our epidemiologists focus on the task at hand of mitigating the spread (deaths and illness). Instead of satisfying political selling point.

    1. Simpler than that ! If you have heart disease in America (the leading cause of death)- then you are part if the same group leading the underlying condition pack- no diff- just a new headline to keep you scared. It explains why children and adults under 60 almost “never” die from this China Virus- it’s “Heart Disease”- the same old culprit- just repackaged ! You been conned- made to look like a fool- how does that feel ?

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