City Hall Mask

A sign outside of Hermiston’s temporary city hall advises people to wear a mask on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020. Umatilla County has seen 117 new COVID-19 cases since Aug. 25, 2020.

Umatilla County continues to closely track COVID-19 data as the county looks ahead to a possible return to Phase 2.

Counties must go at least three weeks before moving to a new phase of reopening. Umatilla County returned to Phase 1 on Friday, Aug. 21, making Friday, Sept. 11 the three-week mark. Metrics the state considers when counties apply for a new phase include new case numbers per capita, the percentage of tests coming back positive, and the number of cases that were able to be traced back to a specific source.

As of Tuesday, Sept. 1, Umatilla County has had 2,562 cases — an increase of 117 cases from one week prior. The news release from Sept. 1 also stated the county had 144 presumptive cases and nine hospitalizations.

A total of 38 residents diagnosed with COVID-19 have died.

The Oregon Health Authority has issued statements asking Oregonians to carefully consider their Labor Day plans to prevent a spike in cases after the holiday.

“Past holiday weekends have led to outbreaks in Oregon among people celebrating in riskier ways and led to an uptick in the number of people who have COVID-19,” the agency stated in a recent Facebook post.

During an Aug. 27 news conference, Oregon’s public health director, Dean Sidelinger, shared an example of 20 people in Oregon who rented a beach house together. Although none of them were showing symptoms during their vacation, right afterward 12 of the guests got sick, and those 12 people were linked to five workplace outbreaks sickening more than 300 people.

OHA’s guidelines ask people to consider staying home for the holiday weekend, and are asked to keep four principals in mind if they do risk travel.

The first is that the fewer people are involved, the lower the risk. Second, outdoor spaces with space to social distance and good airflow are the safest place to be around others. Third, staying 6 feet apart at all times helps lower risk of transmission. And fourth, shorter amounts of time together are less risky than lengthy visits.

Umatilla County Public Health has cautioned that people coming to work while knowingly sick have contributed to outbreaks in the area.

The Oregon Health Authority’s weekly report lists workplaces with at least 30 employees that have had at least five cases of COVID-19 linked to them, either through an employee testing positive or through close contacts of those employees who test positive. The following are the Umatilla and Morrow county worksites on OHA’s most recent list, released Aug. 26:

EOCI (Pendleton), 232 cases

Lamb Weston (Hermiston), 182

Regency Hermiston Nursing & Rehabilitation Center (Hermiston), 99

Shearer’s Foods (Hermiston), 68

Lamb Weston East (Boardman), 58

Walmart Distribution Center (Hermiston), 54

Walmart (Hermiston), 54

Atkinson Staffing (Hermiston), 54

Columbia River Processing (Boardman), 39

Good Shepherd Medical Center (Hermiston), 37

Lamb Weston Pac Center (Boardman), 37

TRCI (Umatilla), 33

Smith Frozen Foods (Weston), 32

Hill Meat Company (Pendleton), 32

McDonald’s (Hermiston), 30

Lamb Weston West (Boardman), 27

Columbia Basin Onion (Hermiston), 24

Independent Transport (Boardman), 21

Threemile Canyon Farms (Boardman), 18

MJ’s Labor Services (Hermiston), 17

Port of Morrow Warehousing (Boardman), 16

River Point Farms (Hermiston), 16

Oregon Potato Company (Boardman), 15

Ashley Manor (Hermiston), 11

Home Depot (Hermiston), 10

Family Health Associates (Hermiston), 9

Boardman Foods (Boardman), 8

J&J Snack Foods (Weston), 8

Keystone RV Company (Pendleton), 7

McDonald’s (Stanfield), 7

Columbia River Dairy (Boardman), 7

Garrett Packing Company (Milton-Freewater), 6

Dairy Queen (Hermiston), 5

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