UMATILLA COUNTY — With the state now keeping a close eye on Umatilla County’s COVID-19 outbreak, Umatilla County Public Health announced a staggering 125 new positive coronavirus cases on Monday, July 6.

Combined with presumptive cases, the county now has 783 total COVID-19 cases and the rapid spread of the virus over the past few weeks has earned Umatilla County a spot on a state watchlist for COVID-19.

Gov. Kate Brown added Umatilla and Morrow counties to a watchlist for COVID-19 along with six more counties — Union, Jefferson, Lake, Lincoln, Malheur and Wasco.

“The spread of COVID-19 in these counties has risen to alarming levels in recent weeks,” according to the press release. “Analysis by the Oregon Health Authority showed alarmingly high per capita rates of case increases and community spread — cases where the infections are not attributable to a specific location or event. This community spread is a serious warning sign for health experts.”

State agencies will monitor counties on the watchlist in the coming days while the Oregon Health Authority and local officials deploy additional resources to control the spread of the disease.

Businesses that refuse to comply face fines and harsher penalties.

Oregon Occupational Safety and Health and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission staff have the authority to take administrative action, according to the press release, including issuing citations, fines and “Red Warning Notices,” which apply to businesses that appear to be in “willful violation” of the governor’s executive orders or that refuse to take corrective measures.

Umatilla County’s spot on the list comes as the county goes through a sustained surge in new cases.

After going weeks with more residents recovered than actively sick, the trend has reversed and started to widen in the wrong direction. The number of hospitalized residents has also grown from 10 on July 3 to 13 on July 6. Six people have died from COVID-19 in Umatilla County.

According to a July 5 post on the Morrow County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, Morrow County has 105 cases, with 94% coming from the Boardman or Irrigon areas.

Yellowhawk Tribal Health Center states that there are 21 cases on the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

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