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Oregon missed 550 COVID-19 deaths due to technical glitch

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Registered nurse Katie Hennick delivers a COVID-19 vaccine at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Corvallis.

The Oregon Health Authority will begin to add 550 COVID-19-related deaths, which were missed due to a technical glitch in the system, to its running totals, the state announced Thursday, Oct. 21.

The deaths occurred between May and August.

“We are taking steps to ensure that our reporting is comprehensive and transparent,” OHA Director Patrick Allen said in a release. “We extend our condolences to everyone who has suffered a loss to COVID-19, and we deeply regret the pain this disclosure may cause.”

There were three COVID-19-related deaths in Linn County in Thursday’s report, raising that county’s death total to 130. Details about those who died will be released in a later report. These numbers do not include any that may be added from the previously uncounted deaths. 

There were no COVID-19-related deaths in Benton County in Thursday’s report.

Another step is underway in the push to vaccinate children against COVID-19.Pfizer announced Thursday it officially submitted a request to the FDA for emergency use authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine in kids 5 to 11 years old. The company is looking to amend its EUA to include the age group, which if granted, would offer 5 to 11 year olds the first COVID-19 vaccine option for them. The FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee is expected to meet Oct. 26 to discuss Pfizer's request and hear input from public health experts. An FDA spokesperson states, "While the FDA cannot predict how long its evaluation of the data and information will take, the agency will review the EUA request as expeditiously as possible using its thorough and science-based approach, and expects this evaluation to take a matter of weeks as opposed to months."Pfizer said it submitted initial data to the agency last week. It said the vaccine showed a favorable safety profile and elicited robust neutralizing antibody responses. The company said the results were comparable to those in a previous study in people 16 to 25 years old. The vaccine for kids five to 11 was given at a third of the dose used in the older age group. The vaccine would be given in two doses, three weeks apart, according to the company. The new prompted varying views from parents contemplating what steps they would take if the vaccine moved forward. "I would not have them take it initially," said Ivory McGee Perry. "I think maybe after a year if other parents want to do that I would wait and see if there are any side effects or long term effects you know after a year then maybe I would have my children vaccinated."Another parent told us of a different plan. "I'm excited that my youngest can finally get protect everybody else in the house is and he as just that missing link," said Vanessa Blaszczyk, adding concern about protecting others with risk factors.Pediatricians are encouraging parents to talk to their pediatricians or doctors. "We in the medical community are extremely confident that these vaccines are safe and are effective and we are going to convey that to our parents, said Dr. Lisa Gwynn. Gwynn is the president of the Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and an associate professor at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. "They've gone through a lot this pandemic," Gwynn said. "For them to be able to go to school to remain in school to not have to be quarantined that's a huge quality of life issue for our children so this vaccine is one step closer in getting to that goal."Other doctors also pointed to school."What that means is almost every kid that goes to school now has the opportunity to protect themselves," said Dr. Mobeen Rathore, chief of infectious disease and immunology for Wolfson Children's Hospital. "It's exciting news its something we've all been waiting for for quite a while now."For parents, another doctor offered this: "My message to them is one we have really good data from adults. We have 6.4 billion people in the world who have been vaccinated with very, very few adverse events and I feel like, with kids, that probably will be even less based on what I know about vaccines, said Dr. Katie Taylor with Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Louisiana.

There were 71 new confirmed and presumptive cases in Linn County, raising that county’s case total to 12,780. There were 29 new confirmed and presumptive cases in Benton County, raising that county’s case total to 5,465.

OHA reported 1,470 new confirmed and presumptive cases in the state, raising Oregon’s case total to 356,061. There were 40 statewide deaths, bringing the death total to 4,275 without the 550 additional numbers that have yet to be released.

State health officials released the weekly coronavirus vaccine breakthrough report, showing that 76.5% of all cases between Oct. 10 and Oct. 16 involved unvaccinated individuals. Of the 6,446 cases in that week, 23.5% occurred in vaccinated people.

Vaccination remains the most effective tool in reducing the spread of the virus, state health officials have said.

Hospitalizations: OHA reported that there are 567 hospitalized patients with the virus across the state, 133 of which are in intensive care unit beds.

There are 48 available adult-ICU beds out of 706, a 7% availability. There are 265 adult non-ICU beds available out of 4,115, or 6% availability.

In the Mid-Willamette Valley, adult ICU beds have 6% availability, and adult non-ICU beds have 3% availability.

Vaccinations: OHA reported that 14,240 doses of the coronavirus vaccine were added to the state immunization registry on Oct. 20. As of Thursday, nearly 2.8 million Oregonians have had at least one dose of a vaccine, and nearly 2.6 million have completed a vaccination series.

Nationwide: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 73,931 new confirmed and presumptive cases on Thursday, bringing the nationwide case total to more than 45.1 million. There were 1,537 new COVID-19-related deaths, bringing the U.S. death total to 730,368.

Joanna Mann covers education for Mid-Valley Media. She can be contacted at 541-812-6076 or Joanna.Mann@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter via @joanna_mann_. 

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