SALEM, Ore. (AP) – State auditors say Oregon health officials’ failure to adequately prepare for COVID-19 likely contributed to some coronavirus deaths in retirement homes early on in the pandemic.

The two state agencies responsible for responding to the pandemic “wasted valuable time” in the first few months after Oregon’s first case trying to figure out how to work together. This stated the Audits Division of the US Secretary of State Oregon in a report published on Wednesday.

The Oregonian / OregonLive reports that more than 90 people eventually died in outbreaks that began when state agencies put a new management system in place.

The Department of Human Services and the Oregon Health Authority did not plan “basic elements of a joint response,” the accountant’s office wrote. “These elements were developed after the onset of the response and delayed actions that may have prevented illness and death in residents and long-term care staff.”

About half of all COVID-19 deaths in Oregon have been long-term caregivers, compared to just over a third nationally. By March 14, 1,210 people had died in community care.

The auditors made a number of suggestions. Going forward, the state should track how many workers are being vaccinated and find a way to potentially make that data public, citing worrying trends that show healthcare workers have refused to be shot.

The state should also do better to involve Oregon’s top senior lawyer, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman. According to auditors, health officials could visit facilities more frequently to make sure they are complying with infection control regulations.

In response to the findings, the directors of the health department and human services listed steps they have taken to curb the effects of the pandemic on long-term care. This included opening seven COVID-19 recovery units, passing a statewide mandate that senior nurses be tested at least monthly, and preventive inspections to verify that facilities are compliant with infection control methods.