COVID-19 contact tracers make phone calls and log potential exposures at the Umatilla County Public Health center in Pendleton, Oregon, on July 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Ben Lonergan, file)

COVID-19 contact tracers make phone calls and log potential exposures at the Umatilla County Public Health center in Pendleton, Oregon, on July 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Ben Lonergan, file)

COVID-19 surge straining Eastern Oregon hospitals

Umatilla County has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Oregon, according to the CDC.

Associated Press

PENDLETON, Ore. — More than half the patients hospitalized as of Tuesday at CHI St. Anthony Hospital in Pendleton, Oregon, have tested positive for COVID-19, officials said.

The hospitalizations come as Umatilla County reports about 8% of the state’s total cases over the past two weeks despite accounting for just 2% of its population, the East Oregonian reported. The county’s case rate during that time period was more than seven times higher than Oregon’s highly-populated Multnomah and Washington counties.

Umatilla County has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Oregon, with fewer than 40% of residents fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Oregon Health Authority reported this week that hospitalizations statewide spiked to the highest totals since April with 259, up 52 since Monday. As of Tuesday afternoon, the Oregon Health Authority webpage monitoring hospital bed capacity showed that of the three hospital regions east of the Cascades, there were only eight intensive care unit beds available out of 81.

In Pendleton, CHI St. Anthony Hospital has reported a “significant uptick” in positive COVID-19 cases in the past week, nearing peak numbers seen last winter, spokeswoman Emily Smith said in an email.

Local hospitals at times refer critically ill patients to other facilities for a higher level of care. But regional hospitals have been unable to accept transfers because they are full with patients, Smith said.

For one patient in need of a transfer, health care workers contacted 15 hospitals before finding one with an available bed, Smith said.

On Monday, the hospital emergency department’s physician director reported a threefold increase in patients testing positive in the department in the previous five days, Smith said. On Friday and Saturday, approximately 40% of patients who came to the hospital with COVID-19 symptoms tested positive. None had been vaccinated against COVID-19, Smith said.

Talk to us

More in Northwest

A marijuana grow is seen on Sept. 2, 2021, in an aerial photo taken by the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office the day officers raided the site in the community of Alfalfa, Ore. On the 30-acre property in the high desert they found 49 greenhouses containing almost 10,000 marijuana plants and a complex watering system with several 15,000-20,000 gallon cisterns.   (Deschutes County Sheriff Via AP)
‘Blatant theft’: Illegal pot farms take West’s scarce water

Meanwhile, farmers are spending thousands of dollars drilling deeper wells as aquifers dry up.

In photo provided by the Washington State Dept. of Agriculture, an Asian Giant Hornet wearing a tracking device is shown Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020 near Blaine, Wash. Scientists have discovered the first nest of so-called murder hornets in the United States and plan to wipe it out Saturday to protect native honeybees, officials in Washington state said Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. (Karla Salp/Washington Dept. of Agriculture via AP)
‘Concerning’: Possible murder hornet 20 miles from known nests

The insect was spotted in the foothills near Sumas Mountain.

FILE - In this Oct. 24, 2016, file photo, the AT&T logo is positioned above one of its retail stores, in New York. A Pakistan resident has been sentenced on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, to 12 years in prison for a conspiracy to "unlock" phones from AT&T's network, a scheme the company says cost it more than $200 million. Muhammad Fahd, 35, of Karachi, recruited an employee of an AT&T call center in Bothell, Wash., via Facebook in 2012, and began bribing that employee and his coworkers to use their credentials to unlock phones. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
Bothell workers helped Pakistani in $200 million phone fraud

The Karachi man recruited employees of an AT&T call center to use their credentials to unlock phones.

Boeing sells land for $200M in plan to shrink holdings

Boeing has sold 310 acres of undeveloped land next to its Frederickson manufacturing plant.

King County to require vaccine or test for events, eateries

Proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test will be required to enter certain establishments.

Biden slammed for challenging Hanford workers’ health law

The 2018 rule made it easier for nuclear reservation employees to qualify for compensation benefits.

Carpenters in Seattle area go on strike

The walkout for higher pay by carpenters in the state is the first in nearly 20 years.

FILE - In this Feb. 2021, file photo released by California Department of Fish and Wildlife, shows a gray wolf (OR-93), seen near Yosemite, Calif., shared by the state's Department of Fish and Wildlife. A top federal wildlife official on Friday, Aug. 20, 2021, said there is growing concern over aggressive hunting rules adopted by states in the Great Lakes and northern Rocky Mountains. (California Department of Fish and Wildlife via AP, File)
US: Wolves may need protections after states expand hunting

Former President Trump lifted protections across most of the U.S. in his last days in office.

Staffing shortages disrupts ferry service near Anacortes

There were 51 canceled sailings on the Anacortes/San Juan Islands route from Sept. 9 to Sept. 13.

Most Read