UMATILLA COUNTY — Umatilla County’s worst week during the COVID-19 pandemic was capped off with another death from the virus.

Umatilla County Public Health announced Monday, June 29, that a 74-year-old man died at the Good Shepherd Medical Center in Hermiston, pushing the county’s COVID-19 death toll to five. The man was diagnosed with the coronavirus June 21, died on June 26 and had underlying health conditions.

The county also announced 64 new positive cases of the virus, bringing the case count to 497. The number of COVID-19 patients who are hospitalized remains stable at six.

Umatilla County has seen its COVID-19 cases skyrocket over the past week as the curve steepens for the entire state. From June 22-29, the county announced 193 new cases, including a Lamb Weston plant outbreak in Hermiston that produced 37 cases to date, according to the Oregon Health Authority.

As Umatilla County COVID-19 statistics climb, public health officials continue to advise residents to stay home when they are sick and wash their hands frequently.

While OHA data typically lags behind the county in reporting new cases, the department currently shows that Umatilla County has the fifth-highest number of cases in the state. According to data compiled by Lane County Public Health, Umatilla County has the third highest infection rate, behind only Union and Lincoln counties.

Closely following Umatilla County in fourth place is Morrow County, which is seeing a significant uptick itself.

Morrow County reported 10 new cases June 29, bringing its total to 59. The recent surge means 43 patients still have active cases while 15 are recovered, although only one Morrow County resident is hospitalized with the virus.

As Morrow County Emergency Management advised residents to continue social distancing, the county attributed the rise in cases to social gatherings.

“Currently, we are seeing that the largest increases in positive cases in Morrow County, are not from people getting it at work, but from things like a backyard (barbecue) or a family celebration,” a press release said. “Even those of us who are diligent in public, with social distancing and face coverings have a tendency to let our guard down when it comes to the weekend with friends at a backyard gathering or camping.”

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