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Live updates: Health officials warn of wildfire smoke’s risk to people with COVID-19

The Oregon Health Authority warned Saturday that wildfire smoke can exacerbate respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.

That poses a problem along parts of the Southern Oregon, according to the Oregon Smoke Information website, maintained by a consortium of agencies that track air quality.

As of Saturday afternoon, smoke is leading to unhealthy air quality in Klamath Falls and Lakeview, according to the site, which said the air is unhealthy for sensitive groups near Burns in Eastern Oregon. The Oregon Smoke Information website also flagged moderate levels of air contamination in Central Oregon, which has been affected by smoke from fires on the Warm Springs Reservation.

Bend leaders are again asking tourists to stay away, and lodgings not to let them book short-term accommodations, as the Central Oregon city seeks to slow the spread of COVID-19 so in-person schooling can resume.

City leaders issued their initial non-binding administrative order in July, and it was set to expire on Labor Day. The new order is now in effect through Oct. 26 — the point at which the Bend-La Pine School District could consider some version of hybrid or in-class learning.

Oregon reported five more deaths linked to COVID-19 on Saturday, bringing the virus’ death toll in the state to 480.

The Oregon Health Authority also confirmed 261 new coronavirus diagnoses, bringing the Oregon to 27,856 known cases since the start of the pandemic.

Four of the five people whose deaths were announced Saturday had underlying medical conditions. They were:

Officials are still determining if underlying medical conditions were a factor in the fifth COVID-19 death announced Saturday, a 68-year-old Umatilla County man who tested positive June 21 and died at his home July 16.

Another 27 people tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Clark County, Washington, the local public health department reported Friday. To date, 2,715 Clark County residents have tested positive for the virus, and 51 have died.

Since the start of the pandemic, 76,335 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Washington, and 1,953 have died, according to the latest counts available from the state.

Copyright 2020 Oregon Public Broadcasting