Staff of Saint Alphonsus Medical Center in Ontario exhausted, but determined to help the sick

A nurse tends to a patient in intensive care in Saint Alphonsus Medical Center in Ontario on Thursday, Sept. 30. (Malheur Enterprise/LILIANA FRANKEL)

ONTARIO - Signs of the pandemic are everywhere at Saint Alphonsus Medical Center in Ontario.

Carts filled with personal protective equipment are stationed at places throughout the floors.

Ping-pong balls floating in glass chambers in the wall indicate which rooms are negatively pressurized to control the spread of airborne illness. 

And in the emergency department waiting room, a divider separates the rows of chairs in two groups: patients with and without respiratory symptoms.

Since July, Covid cases across Oregon have skyrocketed in the largest surge since the beginning of the pandemic.

Malheur County, with a vaccination rate under 50%, is especially vulnerable to the . . .