Umatilla County health officials reported three more COVID-19 related deaths on Monday, Nov. 15.

Public health director Joseph Fiumara said two of the three deaths happened in summer but reporting those has been delayed by a coding issue with the Oregon Health Authority.

That glitch meant about 500 deaths in the state were not attributed to COVID-19 as they should have been, Fiumara said.

Umatilla County’s newest death count of 169 victims includes a 62-year-old woman who tested positive Aug. 28 and died Sept. 1 at Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital in Portland; a 52-year-old man who tested positive and died Aug. 30 at a private residence; an 82-year-old woman who tested positive Oct. 19 and died Nov. 5 at Guardian Angel Homes in Hermiston.

The two women had other health conditions, while such information was not available for the man, officials said.

Fiumara said vaccination rates are again dropping in the county and that his staff is mostly administering booster doses.

Umatilla County is not sponsoring children’s vaccine clinics at this time, instead encouraging parents to make appointments at the public health office or with their family’s pediatricians.

“We know there will be lot of questions parents have and we can answer those in appointments,” Fiumara said.

Public health has offered on-site clinics at schools, but most districts have not taken his office up on that offer, he added.

“And that means kids aren’t getting protected,” Fiumara said.

The biggest problem in vaccinating more adults in Umatilla County came with the recent close of the BiMart pharmacy in Pendleton, Fuimara said.

“People are coming to us and we don’t have the capacity to pick it up,” he said. “BiMart was a fantastic partner with us for COVID shots.”

In Walla Walla County and in the state, COVID-19 transmission rates are holding at about 70%, reflecting much of the rest of the nation, Dr. Daniel Kaminsky said Monday at the County Commissioners weekly meeting.

Over the past week, the seven-day average case rates declined in Washington state and here by 1.4%, said Kaminsky, public health director and officer for Walla Walla County.

Hospitalizations for the virus have decreased, as well. Testing for COVID-19 through University of Washington’s labs continues to be available at no cost to the public at Providence Southgate Medical Park, Kaminsky said, and it appears that effort will be long term.

“For now we have a convenient, cost-effective strategy.”

Numbers for Walla Walla County, Nov. 15:

  • Vaccinated: 83.9% residents 65 years and older; 68.4% residents years and older; 66.8% those age 12 and older.
  • 34 new cases over Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
  • 230 active cases.
  • Total COVID-19 cases stand at 9,235.
  • 105 deaths.
  • Six people hospitalized at Providence St. Mary Medical Center; three Walla Walla County residents, two are Umatilla County residents; all are unvaccinated. Two unvaccinated people are in intensive care at the hospital.

Numbers for Umatilla County, Nov. 15:35,959 residents are vaccinated

  • .
  • 28 news cases since Friday; 14,972 total cases.
  • 169 total deaths.

Numbers for Columbia County, Nov. 15:

  • 4,115 vaccine doses given.
  • 373 total cases, 43 total hospitalizations.
  • Eight deaths total.

Some information for Columbia County is from Washington State Department of Health.

Washington State Department of Health, Nov. 14:Data is from Nov. 14, as the state’s system was down Monday, Nov. 15.

  • 664,970 total cases.
  • 8,990 deaths.

Oregon Health Authority, Nov. 15:

  • 380,091 total cases.
  • 4,803 deaths total.

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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