Multnomah County excessive heat deaths rise to 64

July 4, 2021

The Multnomah County Medical Examiner reported today that the number of deaths from the heat wave has risen to 64. The deaths were identified between June 27 and July 3, 2021 after a record-shattering heat wave fell over the region beginning June 25. 

Of the deaths, 30 have been formally ruled hyperthermia, or death by excessive heat. The remaining cases are suspected hyperthermia. Yesterday, the County released a very preliminary snapshot on the race, age and location of the people who died. See the map and read details known to date here.

Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury said the County will be conducting a much deeper analysis of what happened during the heat wave and how to plan for the future. Beginning June 23, the County mounted an all-hands-on-deck public health response that included opening 24-hour cooling centers and nine cooling spaces, directly contacting tens of thousands of vulnerable elders, people with disabilities and pregnant women, distributing hundreds of fans and sending more than 60 outreach teams into the field to reach people experiencing homelessness.

Death investigators are continuing to respond to suspected cases in what has been an unprecedented mass casualty event. They will be conducting additional investigation to bring what is still a very blurry picture into sharp focus.

The preliminary snapshot shows the people who died ranged in age from 44 to 97, with an average age of 68. The majority were white. Many were found in their homes, with no air conditioning or fans. At  this stage, we are not able to release the exact number of people experiencing homelessness because of missing information and because establishing homelessness takes intensive death investigation and follow-up.