Health officials see COVID cases tied to Pendleton Round-Up

PENDLETEON, Ore. (AP) — Health officials in Umatilla County, Oregon, say they are starting to see COVID-19 cases linked to the Pendleton Round-Up.

Umatilla County Public Health Director Joseph Fiumara told county commissioners Monday the county’s case count last week was 550 cases of COVID-19, and Fiumara said he had 151 pending cases from the weekend.

So far, there are 44 cases of the illness tied to the Pendleton Round-Up, most from Umatilla County and some from Wallowa County, and his staff will eventually parse out what parts of Round-Up yielded which cases of the virus, he said.

The current number of cases associated with Round-Up includes those who got COVID-19 at the event and those who attended while already sick, he said.

The Round-Up is a large, annual rodeo that concluded this year on Sept. 25. The rodeo and and festival typically attract large crowds to northeastern Oregon.

The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin reports COVID-19 is widespread in Umatilla County. Authorities say a typical day at the public health department starts with 30 cases and ends up with 70 to 80.

Hospitals in the county are still relatively at full capacity, public health officer Dr. Jonathan Hitzman reported, noting with the mandate that healthcare workers must be vaccinated, there is possibility some services within St. Anthony Hospital and Good Shepherd Medical Center will have to close for lack of staff.