Dress-Up Parade

Pendleton Round-Up Queen Josilyn Fullerton rides along Southwest Court Avenue on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, during the Main Street Cowboys’ Dress-Up Parade.

Although weekly COVID-19 case numbers are dropping, the pandemic death toll is staying steady in Umatilla County.

Public health director Joseph Fiumara reported on Tuesday, Oct. 12, that three more deaths have been attributed to the virus, including a 77-year-old man with other health conditions who died Dec. 5 in a private home after testing positive on Nov. 20.

It was one of 82 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon on Tuesday, raising the state’s toll to 4,084 victims. The total marks the highest number of deaths affiliated with the disease reported on a single day, in part due to a death data reconciliation by the state, according to a news release.

Death information typically lags behind a surge in case numbers, and there is often a lag in reporting at state epidemiologists review death certificates, officials said.

OHA is anticipating reported deaths might continue to be high even as daily case rates decrease, thanks to a time lag between when someone tests positive and when they die with COVID-19.

In Umatilla County a 72-year-old man was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Aug. 31 and died Oct. 2. Information didn’t say if there were other health conditions or where he died.

Umatilla County’s 139th COVID-19 victim was a 76-year-old woman with other health issues who tested positive Sept. 30 and died Sunday, Oct. 10, at Good Shepherd Medical Center in Hermiston.

Fiumara said Tuesday there were 391 new cases of the illness last week, about 90 fewer people than the week before. Hospitalizations for virus patients are down slightly in Hermiston, but St. Anthony Hospital in Pendleton is still at high occupancy numbers.

That’s not a surprise to health officials, given that the majority of sick Pendleton Round-Up attendees live locally and the “first generation” of COVID-19 exposures from the rodeo event continue to trickle in, Fiumara said.

As of Thursday, Oct. 7, there have been 217 people diagnosed with COVID-19 as a result of being among the 51,000 people at Round-Up — 23 of which are presumptive cases at this moment, he said.

Within that number, 70% showed symptoms and 79% were unvaccinated.

From May 1, 2021, to present, 90% of everyone hospitalized for the virus in the county has been unvaccinated, Fiumara added.

Next to come will be the “second-generation” cases of COVID-19, the director predicted.

While the incubation window has mostly closed for direct Round-Up exposure, secondary infections will soon show up.

“You attend Round-Up, you get sick. A week later your husband gets sick,” Fiumara explained.

“He is the ‘second-generation’ case. In our system he would be linked and in our numbers but identified as a household exposure.”

There have been multiple recent COVID-19 outbreaks at local businesses, as well, and the overall effect of the increased load is to pull his staff away from other health efforts to work on case investigations, he said, noting there were 96 additional new cases of the virus on Tuesday.

“If we are lucky and people stay home when they are sick, this will be a relatively quick jump up and jump down. But it requires people to stay home, because one becomes three becomes nine, real quick. If we can interrupt that, that’s good.”

Fiumara’s biggest current concern is to get virus case numbers down as low as possible as the holiday season approaches.

“If we can start from a lower baseline that is best for everybody,” he said.

Totals for Umatilla County on Tuesday stood at 14,080 cases, including 139 people who have died. Oregon Health Authority data shows 34,456 residents have received at least one vaccine dose. In Milton-Freewater, that’s 3,337 residents or 27.9%. Athena has 580 vaccinated residents, or 41.7% and Weston has 383, or 30.5% of the population.

Oregon reported 1,413 new cases Tuesday, making a total of 345,344 people who have had COVID-19.

Across the state there were 585 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, 59 fewer than on Monday, Oct. 11. There were 149 of those in intensive care beds 21 fewer than on Monday. Out of 682 ICU beds in Oregon, 56 were open and of 4,117 regular adult hospital beds, 298 were open on Tuesday.

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.

(1) comment


Explain how this was published on October 12, 2021 and in the article it states "Tuesday, Oct. 12, that three more deaths have been attributed to the virus, including a 77-year-old man with other health conditions who died Dec. 5 in a private home after testing positive on Nov. 20."

The UB is able to predicting what will happen in the future?

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