Umatilla and Morrow counties added a few new outbreaks to the Oregon Health Authority’s weekly list of worksite COVID-19 outbreaks, but the area’s hospitals remain below capacity.
Businesses to join the list for the first time were Independent Transport LLC in Boardman, Securitas Security Services in Boardman, FedEx Freight in Hermiston, Columbia River Dairy in Boardman, Calbee North America in Boardman and Dairy Queen in Hermiston.
According to Umatilla County Public Health, the county only added 16 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, Aug. 19, and nine cases the day before. As of Aug. 19, five Umatilla County residents were hospitalized with the virus.
Dennis Burke, CEO of Good Shepherd Health Care System, said the hospital created a special COVID-19 ward to handle large numbers of cases, but so far hospitalizations for the virus have remained lower than feared. He said he didn’t want to downplay the seriousness of COVID-19, however, because lessons from other places have shown that low hospitalizations numbers can change “overnight.”
“It’s there if we need it, but we hope we don’t have to call it into play,” he said.
Early in the pandemic, hospitals had to shut down nonemergency services in order to maintain capacity for a possible influx of patients. But Burke said when Umatilla County was sent back to baseline operating levels, the hospital was under a different set of rules and was able to continue offering checkups, elective surgeries and other nonurgent services.
He said they are in much better shape with personal protective equipment than they were in the spring, as well. But he encouraged people to continue to take safety measures around COVID-19 seriously so that the county’s hospitalization rate stays at a manageable level.
Umatilla County Public Health has also been encouraging people to take precautions against the virus, especially in staying home while sick. The county’s daily news releases remind people that the virus continues to spread through workplaces due to people coming to work despite showing symptoms of COVID-19.
Some of Umatilla County’s workplaces that were previously on the Oregon Health Authority’s list have since been moved to the “resolved” category after going more than 30 days with no new cases linked to their site.
Those companies in Umatilla and Morrow counties that have resolved their outbreaks, according to OHA’s Aug. 19 report, are Medelez Trucking of Hermiston, Columbia River Processing (Tillamook) of Boardman, JM Eagle of Umatilla, Safeway of Pendleton, Marlette Homes of Hermiston, Pacific Ag of Hermiston, Taco Bell of Hermiston and Sun Terrace of Hermiston.