PENDLETON, Ore. — Health officials in Umatilla County, Oregon, say they are starting to see COVID-19 cases linked to the Pendleton Round-Up. The county's public health officer, Dr. Jon Hitzman, said Wednesday at least 100 cases have been tied to the event.
Hitzman was at the event as a volunteer in the medical tent. He said many rodeo fans don't like masks or vaccines or government mandates.
"But we've told people, if you feel sick or you're not feeling well, stay home," Hitzman said. "And clearly that did not happen. People who were not feeling well clearly came to the rodeo and spread the virus.
The Round-Up ran from Sept. 15-18th.
The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin reports COVID-19 is widespread in Umatilla County. Authorities say a typical day at the public health department starts with 30 cases and ends up with 70 to 80.
Hospitals in the county are still relatively at full capacity, public health officer Dr. Jonathan Hitzman reported, noting with the mandate that healthcare workers must be vaccinated, there is possibility some services within St. Anthony Hospital and Good Shepherd Medical Center will have to close for lack of staff.
The surge in cases comes as an employee at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday. About 1,200 students and 250 faculty and staff are now working and learning from home.
"This employee had been in a number of buildings, interacted with a number of folks and as we did the tracing back out, the contract tracing out, we quickly discovered there could be a possibility of a number of folks who had some limited exposure to this person," said Mark Browning, the president of Blue Mountain Community College.
The college has several campuses in Oregon, but the quarantine only affects the Pendleton location.