On the same day Umatilla County health officials reported two more COVID-19 related deaths, Washington state Department of Health released its latest situation report showing COVID-19 cases and hospital admissions at their highest levels to date.

Umatilla County officials said Thursday, Aug. 19, that an 80-year-old woman with other health issues tested positive for the disease on Aug. 4 and died Friday, Aug. 13, at St. Anthony Hospital in Pendleton.

A 47-year-old man tested positive on July 14 and died Saturday, Aug. 14, at Adventist Health in Portland. He had additional health issues, officials said.

The deaths raised Umatilla County’s COVID-19 death count to 102.

Washington

Washington health officials said the state’s most recent COVID-19 modeling and surveillance situation report indicates upward case and hospitalization trends are likely to continue in the coming month due to the delta variant.

With hospital staff and capacities strained statewide, both masking and vaccination are now crucial to control and manage disease transmission, the report showed.

Other findings include:

Estimates of statewide transmission have continued the sharp increase noted previously. On Aug. 6, the best estimate of the effective reproductive number — which tells how many new people each COVID-19 case will infect — was 1.49. In July, this number was an estimated 1.46. In June

  • , it was an estimated 0.70, which means that in a short time transmission trends have reversed from earlier successes and are continuing to climb rapidly. To see cases decline the reproductive number needs to stay well below 1.0 for a substantial amount of time.
  • COVID-19 prevalence has nearly quadrupled between July 8 and Aug. 6. The current estimate of prevalence is 0.64% as of Aug. 6, meaning about one in 156 Washingtonians has an active COVID-19 infection. These levels are similar to the height of the third wave in the winter of 2020. The July 8 estimate for prevalence was 0.17%, or one in every 588 Washingtonians — meaning nearly four times as many people now have active virus infections in just one month’s time. About 45% of the state’s population is still susceptible to COVID-19 infection.
  • Hospitalizations are at an all-time high. Both total beds and intensive care beds occupied by COVID-19 patients have increased sharply, exceeding the previous high point of winter’s third wave. The seven-day rolling average for hospital admissions declined to a low of 29 as of June 16 and remained low through July 8. As of Aug. 6, however, the seven-day average of admissions has tripled to 96 and rising. Hospitalizations are also increasing in younger age groups, notably 20-29 and 30-39.
  • Vaccination continues to prevent serious illness. Unvaccinated people ages 16-44 and 45-64 are 10 times more likely to be hospitalized than those who are fully vaccinated. Admissions are about six times higher for unvaccinated people ages 65 and up. If the entire population were to experience the rates of hospitalizations currently seen in the unvaccinated, the hospital system would be completely overwhelmed.
  • Immunity trends saw modest increases. On Aug. 6, the best estimate of statewide population immunity — from either vaccination or prior infection — was 54.7%, an increase of just 2.8% since the July 8 report. Immunity from prior infection was about 15.5%, meaning that without vaccinations the vast majority of Washington State would have no protection against infection — further highlighting the essential role of vaccination.
  • Case rates increased sharply in most Washington counties. Four counties — Walla Walla, Cowlitz, Benton, Franklin — had cases of 500 or more per 100,000 people. Twelve counties had 14-day rates of new cases between 100 and 200 per 100,000 people and 16 counties had rates between 200 and 300 per 100,000 people. Five counties, including Spokane and Asotin, had rates between 300-500 per 100,000. All 39 counties have transmission levels considered substantial or high by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Death rates are fairly flat, with some variability. The seven-day rolling average has varied between five and 10 deaths per day since March 23 and is currently at six per day as of July 30.
  • Delta variant is now dominant. About 98% of cases are estimated to be caused by the delta variant.

“Vaccinations will help us in the long term, but in order to get through the short term, we need to be wearing face coverings right now to control the spread of COVID-19,” said acting Chief Science Officer, Dr. Scott Lindquist.

“We absolutely need to realize that it could literally be any one of us, or our loved ones, needing hospital care in the near future. At this point, to ensure that care is available when we need it, our hospitals are counting on every one of us to mask up and get vaccinated.”

Oregon

On Thursday, Oregon Health Authority published a new report of pediatric COVID-19 case data, with the following key findings:

There have been 31,394 cases of the illness in children across the state, including 1,327 in Umatilla County, representing 12.7% of total cases. Weekly pediatric COVID-19 cases have spiked dramatically since July. Such cases are highest among communities of color and tribal communities, people who identify as American Indian, Alaska Native, Pacific Islander, Black or Latino.

  • Severe outcomes in children are rare; 0.9% of kids have been hospitalized with COVID-19. There have been two reported deaths in people under 18 years old.

Due to an interruption in Washington’s Department of Health data systems on Aug. 18, COVID-19 numbers might be incomplete.

Numbers for Walla Walla County, Aug. 19:

  • 62,802 vaccine doses given, up by 90 from Monday, Aug.16.
  • 36 new cases of COVID-19; 437 active cases, 12 residents hospitalized.
  • Total COVID-19 cases rose by 117 since Monday, now standing at 6,724.
  • The death toll is 75 people, according to local officials, while state officials reports 77 related deaths.

Numbers for Umatilla County, Aug. 16:

  • 26,996 people are fully vaccinated.
  • 69 new cases, 10,883 total.
  • The death toll is at 102 people, six deaths since Monday, Aug. 16.

Numbers for Columbia County, Aug. 16:

  • 3,316 vaccine doses given, no increase reported this week.
  • 197 cases of COVID-19 have been reported, 11 more residents since Monday.
  • The death toll remains at six people.

Information for Columbia County is from Washington state Department of Health.

Washington state Department of Health:

  • 3,976 new cases; 524,670 total cases.
  • 33 new deaths; 6,330 deaths total.

Oregon Health Authority:

  • 2,971 new cases; 250,835 total cases.
  • 19 new deaths; 2,994 deaths total.

Coronavirus Coverage

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Sheila Hagar can be reached at sheilahagar@wwub.com or 526-8322.

Sheila Hagar has written for the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin since 1998. Sheila covers health, social services and city government in Milton-Freewater, Athena and Weston in the Walla Walla Valley.

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