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"Empty chairs at Thanksgiving": Oregon health official reflects on surpassing 5,000 deaths from COVID-19

empty chair.jpg
Tiffany Eckert
/
KLCC
Over 5000 COVID-19 related deaths will leave empty chairs at the family holiday dinner table.

Calling it a “tragic milestone,” Oregon Health Authority’s Patrick Allen acknowledged the state’s 5000th COVID-19 related death, which was surpassed on Monday.

“Each death represents a hole in someone’s life that will never be filled,” he said. “Too many Oregonians will see empty chairs around their holiday dinner table. Each death represents lost love, laughter and memories for family and friends.”

Allen said his sadness is compounded by the knowledge that nearly all the recent COVID-19 deaths could have been prevented with vaccination. Allen urged everyone to get the vaccine or a booster, now available to anyone 18 and over.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Oregon ranks 19th among states for the percentage of population who’ve received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Tiffany joined the KLCC News team in 2007. She studied journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia and has worked in a variety of media including television and daily print news. For KLCC, Tiffany reports on health care, social justice and local/regional news. She has won awards from Oregon Associated Press, PRNDI, and Education Writers Association.