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Cases and deaths had been clustered in the most populous counties before; now hot spots include Wallowa.

COURTESY PHOTO: DREAMSTIME - Some portions of Oregon with lower vaccination rates now are seeing more cases, and more deaths, than the more populous metro-area counties.
The death toll from COVID-19 continues to mount, but the impact has moved away from the metropolitan area, which has seen higher levels of vaccinations, and into the rural counties, which has seen, on average, lower vaccination rates.

For context: Wallowa County experienced one more reported death on Thursday, Sept. 16, than Multnomah County. But as of 2020, Wallowa's population was just under 7,400, compared to Multnomah's estimated 815,000. And as of Sept. 16, Wallowa's vaccination rate is 55.8% with at least one dose; Multnomah's rate is 75.5% with at least one dose.

The Oregon Health Authority on Thursday, Sept. 16, reported 2,069 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases and 46 new deaths, bringing the state's total of COVID cases to more than 305,500, with 3,536 deaths to date.

In 2020 and the early months of 2021, most of the cases, and the deaths, were clustered in the state's most populous counties: Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties, serving Portland and its suburbs, and Marion County, including Salem.

But now the specter of death has moved south and east.

The deaths reported Thursday include:

• Five in Douglas County, including a 39-year-old woman and a 43-year-old man. At the start of the pandemic, the deaths were clustered among the state's elderly population. Douglas County is in Southwest Oregon and includes Roseburg.

• Lane County saw six deaths on Thursday, including a woman in her 40s and two men in their 50s. Lane County includes Eugene.

• In the far Northeast corner of the state, Wallowa County saw four deaths, including a woman in her 50s and a man in his 60s.

By contrast, the state's most populous counties, in the metro area, no longer are the nexus of deaths or cases. New deaths reported Friday included only three in Multnomah County, with the youngest age 75; two in Clackamas, ages 71 and 84; and none in Washington County.

Marion County, another former hot spot, saw three deaths, including a 47-year-old.

Other deaths included three each in Coos, Jackson and Umatilla counties; two each in Douglas, Joesphine, Yamhill and Tillamook counties; and one each in Clatsop, Benton, Curry, Klamath, Benton and Wasco counties.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases included 204 in Marion; 184 in Deschutes; 164 in Multnomah; 157 in Lane; 150 in Washington; 146 in Jackson; 126 in Douglas; 109 in Linn; 80 in Clackamas; 73 in Malheur; 69 in Polk; 59 in Umatilla; 57 in Yamhill; and 56 each in Coos and Josephine; 40 each in Klamath and Union; and fewer than 40 each in Baker, Benton, Clatsop, Columbia, Crook, Curry, Grant, Harney, Hood River, Jefferson, Lake, Lincoln, Morrow, Sherman, Tillamook, Wallowa, Wasco and Wheeler counties.

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