A tip of the hat to the Pendleton Round-Up Association’s Tough Enough To Wear Pink campaign and its donation of $11,000 raised in 2020 to help local cancer support organizations.

The funds were split between St. Anthony Hospital Cancer Care Clinic and the Kickin’ Cancer New Beginnings program. In an ordinary year, contributions usually come from generous sponsors, donations, fundraising events and merchandise sales. But 2020 was hardly ordinary, and with no 2020 Pendleton Round-Up there was no Tough Enough To Wear Pink event. Instead, this year’s contributions came from two primary sources — the Let’er Buck Cares Fund and Oregon Grain Growers Brand Distillery. Kudos to those organizations for stepping to the plate.

The American Cancer Society says that in 2020, there will be an estimated 1.8 million new cancer cases diagnosed and 606,520 cancer deaths in the United States. So there’s no question that organizations that provide care and support for those dealing with the disease and their families continue to need our financial help.

A kick in the pants to the agencies responsible for promoting Oregon Health Authority’s free COVID-19 testing event, held Wednesday, Dec. 30 in the Pendleton Convention Center parking lot. The lack of public outreach was astounding.

There was never any mention of this free testing event on Umatilla County Public Health’s website, and the only time it was mentioned on their Facebook page was back on Dec. 16. No mention on the Umatilla County Recovery website. Neither the East Oregonian nor the Hermiston Herald received a press release about this event from Oregon Health Authority, nor did OHA approach us about any print or digital advertising.

In order to get tested on Dec. 30, one would have had to find the link to www.doineedacovid19test.com, and then register in advance for a specific time between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. OHA required people to download and print out a voucher — that detail alone deserves another kick in the pants — and bring it to the test site.

Not surprisingly, there were more than a half-dozen, PPE-clad health care workers standing around for five hours, mostly doing nothing. Only 50 people had signed up for testing as of the morning of Dec. 30.

In contrast, on Dec. 3, Yellowhawk Tribal Health Center and OHA held a similar drive-thru testing event at Wildhorse. It was also free and open to the public, and well-publicized by the Confederated Tribes. In six hours, 447 people were tested.

A kick in the pants to our country’s extremely disappointing performance in rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine so far.

The urgency with which scientists worked to create the vaccine has fallen far short of the urgency that federal, state and local governments in the United States have shown in administering it. Instead of creating a cohesive national strategy with dedicated resources to get shots in arms as fast as possible, the so-called Operation Warp Speed has essentially told states they’re on their own in figuring something out, and states have often told the same thing to local health departments and hospitals, which are facing shortages of labor and money.

The result is that a majority of the vaccines that have been distributed have yet to be administered, despite their strict expiration date looming. On Dec. 30, Oregon Health Authority reported that only 31,382 of the 138,400 delivered to Oregon had been administered. While we were thrilled to see local hospitals begin administering the vaccine, we were disappointed to see that they waited until after Christmas, despite having received the doses the week before.

At our current pace it will take years for the United States to reach herd immunity. Officials have stated their optimism that this slow start is merely a speed bump and the pace of vaccinations will get much faster as we move into 2021. Given how much is riding on it, we hope they’re right.

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