DIGEST: Sports scrambled, couple recovers, and local groups provide Covid help

The latest news related to Covid in Malheur County:

High school athletes in Malheur County won’t be back in competition until next year under a modified plan announced Wednesday by the Oregon School Activities Association’s executive board. Football and other fall sports will be conducted in March. 

Each season will be seven weeks long, OSAA said. 

The change will affect every high school in the county. 

According to OSAA: 

•Swimming, wrestling and basketball seasons will be between Dec. 28 and March 6 

•Cross country, volleyball, soccer and football seasons will be between February 22 and May 8

•Golf, tennis, track and field, baseball and softball seasons will be between April 19 and June 26

Students and coaches can begin practicing Aug. 31 with the approval of local districts for activities allowed under directives by the Governor’s Office, Oregon Health Authority and state Education Department.

Football, cheerleading and dance/drill are all considered full contact activities based on state guidelines and are prohibited. 


Jodi Elizondo is recovering from coronavirus. (Kezia Setyawan/The Enterprise)

We survived Covid: Ontario principal and police officer share their month of sickness

Tomas and Jodi Elizondo had Covid.

Tomas was one of four officers in the Ontario Police Department who fell sick at the end of June.

“We’re in the public so much, it’s just so hard to say where we got it,” he said. He was wearing a mask on patrol, using hand sanitizer, and “doing everything we’re supposed to be doing,” said Tomas.

But on June 29, he felt feverish, even though he wasn’t breaking a fever.

He had a dry cough, which persisted for three days.

The next day, he got tested, and his temperature went to 101.4.

Jodi, the Ontario High School principal, began feeling a fever too.

She had severe body aches, and lost her sense of smell. The health department presumed her a Covid case as well, and the couple stayed home from work for the next month.

The experience of the Elizondos illustrates the price local people can pay when they contract the virus. Malheur County has one of the highest infection rates in Oregon as health authorities say too many local residents aren’t seriously following recommendations to stem the pandemic.

On social media, some commenters contend the virus is no worse than the flu, that the recovery rate is high and that public authorities have dramatized the infection.

The Elizondos discussed their bout with Covid to share what the virus is like and to urge people to take the coronavirus seriously.


 Euvalcree, a nonprofit community organization in Ontario. (Rachel Parsons/The Enterprise)

Six Malheur County community organizations given Covid grants to help communities of color

Six Malheur County organizations have been awarded grants from the Oregon Health Authority to help communities of color disproportionately affected by Covid.

State money is going to Eastern Oregon Center for Independent Living, Euvalcree, Four Rivers Cultural Center, Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization, New Hope Day Shelter and Kitchen at Origins, and Oregon Childhood Development Coalition.

They were among 173 organizations statewide chosen to receive funding from the CARES Act “to help respond to COVID-19 in culturally and linguistically responsive ways,” according to a statement from the health authority.

“With COVID-19 disproportionately affecting communities of color, including high infection rates among Latinx, Black and Pacific Islanders, among others, the need for this program was substantial,” the release read.

According to the health authority’s weekly Covid update from July 22, Covid cases per 10,000 people were 71.3 for Black Americans, 26.4 for Asian Americans, 67.9 for American Indians and Alaska Natives, 222.7 for Pacific Islanders, 103.2 for Hispanics and 17.2 for whites.


 Covid cases in Malheur County increase by 33, deaths by two

Thirty-three new Covid cases and two deaths in Malheur County were reported by the Oregon Health Authority Tuesday.

While these new cases and deaths come just a few days into the new month, the sharp increase in cases is deceiving, said Sarah Poe, Malheur County Health Department director.

“It’s not a huge jump considering only three tests were reported Sunday — all positive,” said Poe. “Whenever we see a lag in reporting numbers, we expect a bigger day ahead.”

As of Monday, Malheur County had 709 Covid cases, 12 deaths and a positive testing rate of 18.1%, according to the county health department.

The county’s positive test rate, Poe said, increased steadily over the past four to six weeks, which means cases will continue to increase since “we aren’t capturing the true number of infected people and isolating them.”