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Umatilla County sees 95th COVID death, remains 6th least vaccinated county in the state

Umatilla County is Oregon's 6th least vaccinated county and health officials are continuing to work toward higher vaccination rates.
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UMATILLA, Ore. — Umatilla County has seen its 95th COVID-related death, according to a press release from Umatilla County Public Health (UCo Health).

It has also identified 145 new COVID-19 cases in the county. The death was a 69-year-old man who tested positive on March 3 and died on March 23 at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland, Wa. He had underlying health conditions..

UCo Health encourages people to social distance and stay home to quarantine if they are ill or experiencing upper respiratory symptoms. This comes on the heels of officials announcing a renewed mask mandate for public buildings in Multnomah County beginning Friday, August 13 in reaction to surging cases, mostly the delta variant among unvaccinated people, across the state.

RELATED: COVID-19 cases are spiking in Oregon again. The state is taking a different approach this time

This is a problem for Umatilla County as it is Oregon’s sixth least vaccinated county with only a 44.8% vaccination rate. It needs another 21,558 people to be vaccinated to reach the 80% vaccination rate the state has set. However, it is important to note that 95% of the population needs to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity.

Umatilla County has hundreds of COVID cases, and most people there are not vaccinated, said county health officer Dr. Jon Hitzman earlier in August.

“We’re seeing 30, 40 and 50-year-olds who are actually healthy, getting very, very sick. And some of them are dying. These are unvaccinated people,” Dr. Hitzman said

Despite being Oregon’s 14th most populous county, Umatilla County ranks 7th in the number of people still needed to be vaccinated to reach the 80% goal set by the state. The release from UCo Health reiterates that spread of COVID-19 can happen anywhere and is not discriminatory about who it might infect. The Delta variant accounts for more than 80% of recent cases, according to the Oregon Health Authority. It is more communicable and is infecting more children than the first wave of the virus, though not enough data has been collected to tell whether the symptoms are more severe in children than before. New studies have also shown that unvaccinated COVID-19 survivors are twice as likely to contract it again.

The CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors as well as those who are immunocompromised in any way. If you are not vaccinated, the CDC, Oregon Health Authority and UCo Health recommend that you get vaccinated.

Vaccination information sites are front and center on Umatilla County Public Health’s website. You can call EOCIL at 541-889-3119 to schedule a ride to a vaccination center. 

In a press release, UCo Health said counseling and crisis support services were available to the community by calling Lifeways at 866-343-4473. It also urges anyone who is experiencing heightened stress and are struggling with waning mental health or substance abuse exacerbated by the stressful and precarious nature of COVID-19 to contact the SAMHSA helpline at 1-800-985-5990

RELATED: Multnomah County issues face mask mandate as COVID cases, hospitalizations surge

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