Oregon Governor Urges Residents to Take Heat Wave Seriously, but Declares No Emergency

During this week’s heat wave, which saw temperatures rise by 20 to 30 degrees in some state regions, some major Oregon cities registered August highs that broke previous records.

Governor Tina Kotek, meanwhile, claims that because counties have not requested assistance from the state to deal with the heat, she has not proclaimed an emergency.

Gov. Kate Brown did not declare a state of emergency during the unprecedented heat dome event in mid-June of 2021, but she did so during a later heat wave in August.

The state recorded 115 heat-related fatalities during the heat dome in June 2021. An area newspaper attacked Brown for missing the situation because he was away on a retreat.

Despite temperatures not approaching the highs observed in June 2021, Brown proclaimed two heat-related emergencies in July 2021 and August 2022 in response to the lethal heat dome.

Oregon Governor Faces Pressure to Declare Heat Wave Emergency

Since taking office, Kotek has only issued one weather-related emergency proclamation because of Multnomah County’s frigid temperatures in February 2023.

Her spokeswoman informed KATU that she would not declare an emergency unless counties asked her to do so to receive extra funding for things like warming shelter staff, planning, and equipment during a winter weather event that closed multiple routes statewide in December.

Despite record temperatures in specific locations on Tuesday, Kotek provided a similar justification for delaying the issuance of a heat-related emergency.

“Currently I am not aware of any requests from local government to assist, and for an emergency declaration we would wait for that request before responding,” she said.

Kotek urged Oregonians to keep an eye on one another and seek refuge if necessary.

“Please be safe. Go to cooling centers. If you don’t have a cool place to be, call 211 if you don’t know where those cooling centers are,” she said. “It is important for everyone to check in on our neighbors. If you haven’t seen someone, check in on them.”

The tweet below shows that the temp. Of Oregon is higher than average days:

According to the Oregon Health Authority, as of Sunday, there haven’t been as many heat-related medical visits as there were on July 15, when 37 people sought treatment for illnesses related to the heat. There were 31 heat-related medical visits throughout the state on Sunday, August 13, but figures for Monday and Tuesday are not yet available.

On June 28, 2021, 296 medical visits connected to the heat reached their peak under the 2021 heat dome. Additionally, according to Oregon OSHA, fewer violations linked to workplace heat are being recorded.

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“Since May of this year, Oregon OSHA has received at least 37 complaints that involve a heat-related allegation (complaints can involve more than one alleged hazard). We are currently addressing those complaints through a mixture of on-site inspections and non-inspection investigations,” Oregon OSHA spokesperson, Aaron Corvin, said in a written statement. “Using July and August of 2022 as a sample while excluding other inspections — we conducted at least 86 complaint-based inspections concerning allegations related to heat hazards during that time frame. Of those 86 inspections, 53 resulted in citations being issued to employers for violations of our heat requirements.”

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