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Two more COVID-19 deaths in Umatilla County while Walla Walla County cases rise by six

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Two more Umatilla County residents have died from COVID-19 and another 36 residents were diagnosed with it, officials said Wednesday.

The county’s 12th COVID-19 victim was a man, 74, who tested positive June 29 and died a week ago at Good Shepherd Medical Center in Hermiston.

Another man, 82, tested positive last Thursday and died Tuesday at the same hospital.

Both people had underlying health conditions, officials said.

Walla Walla County’s most recent update shows there have now been 310 residents with COVID-19 — 194 of those live in the city of Walla Walla — an addition of six people since Tuesday.

There are 66 people with active cases, county officials reported.

Washington state Wednesday reported 48,575 residents, or 5.8% of the population, have tested positive since the pandemic began; 1,465 people have died from the virus.

In Umatilla County’s population of nearly 80,000 people, 1,409 people have received positive test results for the coronavirus; 91 more people are expected to test positive because of signs of and exposure to the illness.

Since Monday, 225 people have been identified as having the illness in Umatilla County, which has a caseload of 266 people with active cases.

Thirteen people are hospitalized.

Health officials continue to ask people to stay home from work with any sign of a COVID-19 infection. Last week, Umatilla County commissioner Bill Elfering said the board is working with the state to try to offer financial relief so people can miss work due to the illness.

At a press conference Wednesday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said COVID-19 is spreading too quickly across the state, and that the virus is more contagious and lasting longer than anyone could foresee.

Brown said she is particularly concerned about “hotspot” counties, including rural and Eastern Oregon counties.

Oregon Health Authority data Wednesday showed 15,393 residents have been diagnosed with the virus, and 271 have died from it.

There is a 26% increase in cases in the last week, said state epidemiologist, Dr. Dean Sidelinger.

Milton-Freewater continues to have had 18 residents diagnosed with the disease.

Hermiston has had 629 residents with COVID-19, or 248 cases per 10,000 people.

If the disease is left unchecked, Oregon is on a trajectory to overwhelm its system of medical care, Sidelinger said, adding people must take individual responsibility for changing that picture by masking up, social distancing and washing their hands.

Umatilla County health officials said there are now 1,221 cases considered to be inactive, meaning people who are at least 10 days from the start of the illness and have been free from symptoms for 72 hours.

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Sheila Hagar can be reached at or 509-526-8322.

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.