By The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin

Umatilla County has lost another resident to COVID-19. Health officials Tuesday reported the 11th death from the coronavirus since the pandemic arrived here in February.

The 77-year-old man had underlying health conditions and tested positive for the disease on July 9.

He died Monday at a Hermiston nursing home, county officials said.

Umatilla County’s public health staff also added another 25 people with positive test results to the active case list that’s now numbering 281.

Walla Walla County health staff said in a social media post Tuesday that rising numbers here are linked to exposure between household members or gatherings over the Fourth of July holiday, an increase officials anticipated.

However, an increasing number of people are getting COVID-19 without a known exposure source, officials said, signaling the start of more community transmission in Walla Walla County.

“We need to keep our gatherings to five people or fewer per week,” the Facebook post pointed out.

In Umatilla County the additional coronavirus cases mean that since Friday, 189 residents have been diagnosed with the illness. Another 89 people are expected to receive positive test results for COVID-19, based on symptoms and exposure to the virus, officials said.

There have been 1,373 people in Umatilla County with confirmed results, 1,170 of whom are classified as inactive cases now.

Thirteen people in Umatilla County are currently hospitalized with the disease, one less than on Monday.

The East Oregonian reported Umatilla County “continues to display a high positive test rate, with 16% of the 8,287 cases coming back positive.”

Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution spokesman Ron Miles told the East Oregonian Monday there are 23 positive cases among inmates in the Pendleton-based state penitentiary. Another 11 inmates have test results pending; five staff members have also tested positive for COVID-19, Miles said in an email to the Pendleton newspaper.

Those numbers do not count in Umatilla County virus numbers, but are part of Oregon’s total caseload.

To mitigate the spread of the virus, the prison has placed 37 inmates in medical isolation, according to the East Oregonian.

“Umatilla County and its neighbor to the west, Morrow County, have the two highest COVID-19 rates per 100,000 in the state,” the newspaper said Monday.

Walla Walla County reported one resident was diagnosed with the coronavirus since Monday, making 304 people who have had the illness since the outbreak began here in March and has mostly affected the city of Walla Walla residents.

At the beginning of June, the county’s Department of Community Health reported 110 people with confirmed cases, four of those active at the time.

Sixty people now have active cases and are isolating, officials said, noting 241 people have recovered enough to be released from at-home isolation.

Three Walla Walla County residents have died from COVID-19, according to county data.

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