The Voice of Malheur County

COVID

Coronavirus, pandemic, vaccines

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FreeOREGON NEWS Oct. 25
New lawsuit in Oregon seeks injunction against Covid-19 vaccine mandate
Five corrections officers are plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed last week in Baker County Circuit Court, seeking to halt Gov. Kate Brown's Covid vaccine mandate for state workers.
FreeCOVID Oct. 20
Valley Family Health Care CEO says sick leave costs dropping as workers get vax
The company incentivized workers to get vaccinated in the spring and had a vaccination rate of about 90% as of last week.
FreeCORONAVIRUS IN MALHEUR COUNTY Oct. 20
Covid claims 2 more lives in Malheur County
The Malheur County Health Department on Wednesday reported two more people with Covid have died, a man in his 50s and a woman in her 70s. With the updated counts, the county has seen 12 Covid-related deaths since early August and 77 overall.
FreeAROUND OREGON Oct. 19
Urban hospitals in Oregon lose hundreds of employees over mandate but largely adjust
In rural areas, it’s business as usual with health care facilities largely accepting most exemption requests.
FreeAROUND OREGON Oct. 19
Federal judge rejects last-ditch effort to block Oregon Covid vaccine mandate
Vaccination requirement for state employees, teachers, health care workers was left to take effect.
FreeCOVID Oct. 18
As governor's vaccine mandate goes into effect, key local services will keep functioning after all
Despite concern that tensions around the Covid vaccine would result in mass walkouts from key sectors including education, health care and public safety, the availability of employer-certified exemptions to the mandate seems to have cushioned Malheur County from the feared impact.
FreeCOVID IN MALHEUR COUNTY Oct. 12
Malheur County Health Department warns of more Covid hospitalizations, deaths as rates hold
The county health department said that with case rates at, or above, 200 per week during the past six weeks, residents should remain vigilant to the spread of Covid and take preventative measures like masking, avoiding gatherings, and getting tested in the presence of any symptoms.
FreeOREGON NEWS Oct. 7
Oregon Health Authority advises employers to be flexible in enforcing Oct. 18 vaccine mandate
OREGON NEWS: Monday was the last day for state executive branch employees, health care staff and educators to receive their last dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.
MALHEUR COUNTY GOVERNMENT Oct. 7
Vale will seek help from other emergency service agencies if Covid-related resignations develop
Vale city councilors last week debated the possible impact from Gov. Kate Brown's vaccination mandate and directed Todd Fuller, Vale city manager, to seek alliances with other agencies in the county. Officials say they anticipate some first responders to quit rather than comply with a vaccination mandate.
COVID Oct. 6
Staff of Saint Alphonsus Medical Center in Ontario exhausted, but determined to help the sick
Malheur County's only hospital used to send its Covid patients to its sister locations in Nampa and Boise, but those sites have faced new challenges as Idaho has entered crisis standards of care. Now, local Covid patients are more likely to stay in Ontario, where a dedicated team of medicals and professionals takes on their care.
COVID In Oregon Oct. 5
Cost of Covid: Hospital stays longer, more costly for difficult treatment
Insurers and taxpayer-funded programs like Medicare and Medicaid face 6-figure bills for the most severely ill Covid patients, who require extended stays in intensive care units.
FreeCOMMENTARY Oct. 4
COMMENTARY: I was relieved COVID affected adults more than kids. With delta variant, that relief is gone
An Idaho pediatrician, in a column for the Idaho Capital Sun, urges vaccination for the sake of children as well as adults as the delta variant of Covid continues to take its toll.
COVID CRISIS Sep. 24
Delta, false info pose challenge in Malheur County's Covid fight
Five Oregonians were recently hospitalized for consuming ivermectin, a dewormer for horses and cattle, as an alternative to safe Covid treatment. Its use can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and death.
FreeCOVID IN MALHEUR COUNTY Sep. 15
Battle lines drawn in Malheur County as virus surges
Elected officials and citizens protest vaccination mandates while Covid cases surge in Malheur County, and Malheur County resident is among a group suing Gov. Kate Brown. “There is more hardship than ever,” said Sarah Poe, director of the Malheur County Health Department. “We have a vaccine. About a third of our community is protected. People who are getting really sick and dying of this disease are not vaccinated.”
FreeCOVID IN MALHEUR COUNTY Sep. 9
Kids continue to get Covid in Malheur County, officials report
Covid cases in people under 18 have “increased dramatically” since July, officials say. Malheur County reported 115 pediatric cases in August.
FreeCOVID IN MALHEUR COUNTY Sep. 8
Cases hit record in Malheur County, vax rate lowest in Oregon
Health and medical professionals renewed their call for people to get vaccinated against Covid as the surest way to prevent deaths. “We continue to lose people who didn’t have to die. We continue to comfort families after a death that didn’t have to happen. There is heartache and there is pain,” said Dr. Richard Augustus of West Valley Medical Center.
FreeCOVID CRISIS Sep. 7
Idaho forced to ration medical care as hospitals buckle under Covid
Idaho Capital Sun: The state's unprecedented decision on Tuesday means a rationing of emergency care in the northern part of Idaho. This could impact hospitals in the Boise, which treats Covid patients from Malheur County.
FreeAROUND OREGON Sep. 3
AROUND OREGON: ‘Intentional misuse’ of ivermectin rises in Oregon
Poison control operators in Oregon have already seen a third more calls this month for people who intentionally misused veterinary and human forms of ivermectin than they saw in all of the other seven months of the year combined.
FreeCOVID MANDATES Sep. 2
Sheriff Wolfe's petition gains traction, and Gov. Brown responds
More than 400 people have signed on to Malheur County Sheriff Brian Wolfe's letter to Gov. Kate Brown rejecting statewide mandates for masking and vaccinations. Gov. Brown had not asked sheriffs to enforce the mandates, and said that local leaders were playing politics with Oregonians' lives.
FreeCOVID IN MALHEUR COUNTY Sep. 2
County elected leaders issue letter of protest over governor's Covid mandates
The missive signed Wednesday by the Malheur County Court calls for Gov. Kate Brown to discard requirements for vaccinations and to allow residents to make their own choice.
FreeCOVID IN MALHEUR COUNTY Sep. 2
Malheur County breaks daily Covid case record
Malheur County reported 85 new cases of Covid from Tuesday, Aug. 31, breaking the previous daily record set over a year ago.
FreeCOVID IN MALHEUR COUNTY Sep. 1
More kids in Malheur County contracting Covid, officials report
More children are getting Covid, which can cause symptoms that may be hard for parents to recognize. The number of children hospitalized at St. Luke's has doubled in the last month, and cases in Oregon are climbing.
FreeCOVID IN MALHEUR COUNTY Sep. 1
Covid surge: Malheur County goes back to school, local health experts ask community to vaccinate
The Covid surge continues in Malheur County, which saw 146 new cases last week. Another 73 cases were reported on Tuesday for a three-day period. Health care professionals addressed a letter the community asking them to get the Covid vaccine. School quarantines have added pressure for officials to act.
FreeCOVID Aug. 30
Free Covid testing and vaccinations available at fairgrounds in Ontario
The Malheur County Fairgrounds will host free drive-through Covid testing and vaccinations Tuesday, Aug. 31 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. courtesy of the Oregon Health Authority and the Malheur County Health Department.
FreeCOVID IN MALHEUR COUNTY Aug. 25
Malheur County leaders say vaccine mandate could cripple or close schools, ambulance service
State Rep. Mark Owens and Sen. Lynn Findley say Gov. Kate Brown's mandates go too far, forcing teachers, health workers and public employees to choose between what should be a personal medical decision and the jobs that feed their families. Vale Fire Department, Jordan Valley School District and Harney County Health District are among the agencies speaking out against the measures.
FreeCOVID Aug. 25
Malheur County gears up for Covid blitz
The Covid pandemic is escalating in Malheur County. Local vaccination initiatives, community education and state mandates hope to keep people in Malheur County out of the hospital, and to keep them alive.
FreeCOMMENTARY Aug. 24
COLUMN: As Covid surge sets in, the Enterprise will keep giving you the facts
The Malheur Enterprise pledges transparency in continued efforts to provide fact-based reporting of the pandemic challenges facing Malheur County. Editor Les Zaitz discusses that commitment and what readers can expect.
COVID Aug. 19
UPDATED: Gov. Brown to require all K-12 staff and health care workers to get vaccinated
UPDATED: All staff in K-12 schools will be required to get fully vaccinated against Covid by Oct. 18 or six weeks after full FDA approval, announced Gov. Kate Brown today. She also announced that there is no longer a testing alternative for health care workers. The move comes after a surge in Covid hospitalizations statewide.
COVID Aug. 19
Gov. Brown says counties need to act to slow Covid
When Gov. Brown announced the statewide mask mandates last week, she said the measures were a result of inaction on a local level despite the worsening Covid situation. Malheur County representatives disagreed, saying they have responded adequately.
COVID Aug. 19
Doctors in Ontario, Nampa, Boise frustrated as they treat "pandemic of the unvaccinated"
As Covid worsens in the region, St. Luke's is pausing elective procedures that have an overnight stay, and Saint Alphonsus is boarding some medical patients in the emergency department.
COVID VACCINE Aug. 18
Valley Family Health Care providing vaccinations Thursday in Nyssa
Valley Family Health Care is holding a vaccine clinic this Thursday, Aug. 19, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Nyssa High School. There is no appointment necessary to get vaccinated.
COVID IN MALHEUR COUNTY Aug. 18
Malheur County teeters on the edge of a major crisis as virus spreads
Cases and the infection test positivity rate continues to climb, prompting health officials to urge residents to get vaccinated.
COVID IN MALHEUR COUNTY Aug. 11
Mask up, Malheur County, starting Friday for indoor public places
The state is directing people in Malheur County and elsewhere in Oregon to wear masks when going into public places starting Friday, Aug. 13, in an effort to thwart a rapidly-spreading coronavirus variant projected to overwhelm hospitals.
COVID Aug. 10
Gov. Brown to announce statewide indoor mask mandate
Gov. Kate Brown is scheduled to announce statewide indoor mask requirements tomorrow, in response to projections that Covid hospitalizations will exceed health system capacity in the state in the coming weeks. She is also requiring virtually all state employees to be vaccinated.
COVID IN MALHEUR COUNTY Aug. 9
Covid outbreak temporarily closes Boys & Girls Club in Ontario
The Malheur County Health Department informed Boys & Girls Club staff of the outbreak last week but details are limited. The Ontario clubhouse is expected to remain closed until Aug. 16.
COVID Aug. 5
Health care workers in Malheur County to get weekly Covid testing or get vaccinated
Starting Sept. 30, workers in local hospitals and clinics who have direct or indirect contact with patients or infectious material will be required to take weekly tests or prove they are vaccinated.
COVID IN MALHEUR COUNTY Jul. 28
State, federal and local officials recommend masks indoors as Covid cases climb
Powered by the Delta variant, cases of new infections are rising in specific areas of the nation. Now health officials are trying to get ahead of what is beginning to look like another surge just weeks after Oregon dropped most Covid restrictions.
COVID IN MALHEUR COUNTY Jun. 23
Vaccination rate continues to lag even as the Covid infection endures
The virus isn't vanquished and remains a persistent threat to area residents. While cases are down from their peak more than six months ago, health officials believe the only way to stop it is through more vaccinations.
COVID IN MALHEUR COUNTY Jun. 3
Immunization goal for Malheur County far off, keeping 'low risk' rating out of reach
Recent data shows only 26% of county is immunized, far short of the state-mandated goal of 65%. Health officials, though, plan to continue outreach efforts through the summer to cut the margin.
FreeCOVID May. 21
Get a free lunch and a shot at Origins Faith Community in Ontario on Friday
The event will feature free lunch and $25 gift cards for all those vaccinated.
MALHEUR COUNTY COVID May. 12
Oregon could open at 70% vaccination, but Malheur County isn't halfway there yet
Gov. Kate Brown promised Oregonians Tuesday that she'd lift most pandemic restrictions in counties that can show 70% of people 16 and older have been vaccinated. Malheur County has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the state.
COVID IN MALHEUR COUNTY May. 4
Malheur County sees 'concerning' increase in Covid cases, now faces new state restrictions
After being at a low level of risk for the coronavirus, Malheur County is now considered at "high risk" for the spread of the virus. On Friday, new limits take hold on some local businesses and institutions.
POLITICS May. 4
Rep. Bentz slams governor over her increased Covid restrictions
After the governor announced that 15 counties would be moving into the category of "extreme risk" for Covid last Friday, U.S. Rep. Cliff Bentz released a statement criticizing the restrictions, which include a shutdown of indoor dining for eight of the 20 counties he represents. Malheur County is still in "moderate risk," with indoor dining allowed.
COVID Apr. 29
Vax efforts fall short for Oregon Latinos, including in Malheur County
Across the state, Latinos make up 13% of the population and 25% of Covid cases, but only 6% of vaccinations. In Malheur County, local providers are looking to improve access and information-sharing within the Latino community.
CORONAVIRUS: Life in Malheur County Apr. 27
Restrictions loom again for Malheur County as Covid case rate rises
Covid cases are on the rise in the region, as Malheur County struggles to boost the vaccination rate – now the second worst among Oregon counties. Officials are gearing up for a return to tighter restrictions on businesses and gatherings.
FreeCOVID Apr. 21
Drive-thru Covid vaccine clinic off to a slow start at the Ontario fairgrounds
The clinic has plenty of the Moderna vaccine to distribute each day from 4 to 8 p.m. through Friday, April 23.
COVID IN MALHEUR COUNTY Apr. 15
Mobile vaccine clinic opens Friday for 8-day run at Malheur County Fairgrounds.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency clinic will be open every day until Friday, April 23. Meanwhile, there is still time today to visit Four Rivers Cultural Center to participate in a vaccine clinic.
COVID IN MALHEUR COUNTY Apr. 14
Malheur County at risk of restrictions as Covid cases stack up
Malheur County officials on Wednesday warned that they are seeing an increase in Covid cases and the percentage of people testing positive for the coronavirus. If the trend continues, the county's businesses and organizations could face new limits.
MALHEUR COUNTY PUBLIC SAFETY Apr. 14
Judge's ruling in Ontario prison case considered landmark in holding state accountable
A recent court order at SRCI which resulted in a sweeping order to reform the institution's masking and Covid testing protocols revealed problems that advocates say are endemic to the Oregon Department of Corrections as a whole.
COVID IN MALHEUR COUNTY Apr. 13
Malheur County's battle to defeat Covid loses key weapon as Johnson & Johnson vaccine put on hold
Two federal agencies on Tuesday recommended a "pause" in administering the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and the Oregon Health Authority soon followed up telling providers to stop using it for now. This comes as Malheur County planned to ramp up its vaccination effort.
COVID IN MALHEUR COUNTY Apr. 6
County scheduled to drop into lower risk Covid classification Friday
Gov. Kate Brown announced the new direction Tuesday. More than 10 other Oregon counties will remain in the high risk category while six counties will be listed as moderate risk.
FreeCOVID Apr. 5
Where to get vaccinated or tested this week
Four Rivers Cultural Center is hosting its usual vaccine clinic open to all eligible community members this Thursday, and Saint Alphonsus Medical Center Ontario has appointments available Friday.
FreeCOVID Mar. 29
COVID: Where to get vaccinated or tested this week in Malheur County
Expanded hours at the Malheur County Health Department's Covid vaccination clinic this Thursday, plus new eligibility beginning April 5.
OREGON GOVERNMENT Mar. 29
State judge rules that SRCI must enforce mask mandate, consider rapid tests for employees
Circuit Court Judge Amy Baggio found that two inmates' Eighth Amendment right to protection from cruel and unusual punishment had been violated over medical care. She found that prison workers doubt the seriousness of Covid.
COVID Mar. 26
Saint Alphonsus to host vaccine clinic Monday
Saint Alphonsus Medical Center in Ontario will offer vaccinations to eligible Oregonians on Monday, March 29. More than 80 appointments to get the Covid vaccine shot are available.
FreeMALHEUR COUNTY COVID Mar. 25
Vaccine available Thursday to growing list; Saint Alphonsus hosts Monday clinic
Here is the latest on where you can get a Covid vaccination shot if you are eligible. The Malheur County Health Department clinic is Thursday afternoon.
FreeCOVID Mar. 22
As more people are eligible for vaccine, here's where to get yours in Malheur County
Agricultural workers and others became eligible for vaccine this week after Gov. Kate Brown moved the timeline up.
COVID IN MALHEUR COUNTY Mar. 17
Vaccine now available at several Malheur County locales as supply expands
The Malheur County Health Department reported it has vaccinated almost 5,000 people against Covid as of last week, a sign of progress nearly a year after the pandemic began.
COVID IN MALHEUR COUNTY Mar. 3
Local businesses pleased, but remain cautious, regarding new Covid mandates
Malheur County dropped from the extreme risk category to moderate risk Feb. 27, heralding a new beginning for area merchants. The new rules, though, are not set and stone and some businesses owners remain guarded about the future.
COVID Feb. 26
Advocates seek to bridge vaccine gap for Latinos, others in Malheur County
Local medical providers said they were working with community-based organizations to address disparities in vaccine distribution that affect communities of color.
COVID IN MALHEUR COUNTY Feb. 26
A chance to sit inside a restaurant or bar starts Friday across Malheur County
After months of inactivity, a change in the county's Covid risk level means area taverns and restaurants are once again accessible to residents.
COVID IN MALHEUR COUNTY Feb. 23
State eases Covid restrictions on Malheur County
The county will drop from the Extreme Risk level to Moderate Risk beginning Friday. That means bars and restaurants will be open for indoor service and larger public gatherings will be allowed.
FreeCOVID IN MALHEUR COUNTY Feb. 18
Malheur County's Covid case count shows sharp decline
The county logged just one new Covid case during a three-day period last week. While the trend may be a hopeful sign for the future health officials caution it is too soon to tell if the county has turned the corner in the Covid war.
COVID Feb. 17
Feb. 18 vaccination clinic at Four Rivers Cultural Center canceled
The cancellation was due to weather-related shipping issues, according to a press release from the Malheur County Health Department
COVID Feb. 17
You did it, Malheur County - data shows drop in Covid, eased restrictions could come next week
UPDATED: The Oregon Health Authority showed that Malheur County could move to a county with "moderate" risk of Covid spread, meaning indoor dining and entertainment would be allowed for the first time in months.
FreeCOMMENTARY Feb. 11
COLUMN: Malheur County residents are making a difference to reopen schools, businesses
As Malheur County shows improvement in Covid testing rates, school officials are lauding the community's efforts to get the virus under control. They urge everyone to continue with masks, hand washing and other precautions to lift restrictions from schools, businesses and activities.
HEALTH Feb. 10
Pandemic in Malheur County boosts substance abuse by kids, adults
Prevention experts said that the stress of the pandemic, coupled with a lack of access to social connections and positive recreation, had led to increased drug use and relapses county-wide.
COVID IN MALHEUR COUNTY Feb. 10
Top Malheur County health official says more vaccine needed to stymie Covid
Sarah Poe, Malheur County Health Department director, believes the Covid serum is the best weapon to thwart the pandemic. She just wishes there was more vaccine to distribute to residents.
COMMENTARY Feb. 4
EDITORIAL: Vaccines offer hope, but vigilance remains key to keeping Covid at bay
The virus isn't done with us, as local outbreaks prove, and that makes it critically important to adhere to social distancing and mask precautions in the months ahead.
COVID IN MALHEUR COUNTY Feb. 3
State inmates at Ontario prison to be vaccinated quicker following judge's order
A federal judge found Tuesday that the Oregon Department of Corrections had acted with “deliberate indifference” in deciding not to promptly vaccinate all inmates, violating their Eighth Amendment rights. Now, they've been moved up in the rollout plan and will be vaccinated as soon as possible.
COVID Feb. 3
Heartbreaking loss of Vale father from Covid resonates for local family
Jerry Erstrom was always quick with a smile and loved his children and grandchildren. Recovering from a back surgery, Erstrom - a well-known local personage - contracted Covid and died from the infection. Now his family wants people to know the Covid virus isn't a hoax and it kills.
FreeCOVID IN MALHEUR COUNTY Jan. 29
Vale High School will close for two weeks in wake of Covid outbreak
The school district made the announcement Friday as eight individuals tested positive for the infection. Vale School District returned to in-person instruction two weeks ago.
FreeCOVID IN MALHEUR COUNTY Jan. 28
Covid outbreaks hit Vale schools and Ontario businesses, county reports
In a press release Thursday afternoon, officials described outbreaks of the infection in Ontario and Vale at schools and businesses.
FreeCOVID IN MALHEUR COUNTY Jan. 27
Covid outbreak strikes Malheur County Jail
The virus struck earlier this month and infected 25 people - inmates and employees - before it began to burn itself out. No one died or was hospitalized from the outbreak.
COVID IN IDAHO Jan. 25
IN THE REGION: ‘Like my heart was trying to tear through my rib cage.’ Idahoans describe long COVID
Idaho residents chronicle their battles with long-haul Covid, reporting a range of symptoms that persist after surviving their initial bout with the virus. Health officials are bracing for more cases that will require long-term monitoring and treatment.
COVID IN MALHEUR COUNTY Jan. 16
AROUND OREGON: With fewer Covid vaccines coming from feds, seniors now behind teachers in Oregon’s inoculation line
Oregonians 80 and older will now have to wait until Feb. 8 to get a Covid vaccine after Gov. Kate Brown prioritized school employees. The change comes after state leaders learned an expected influx of vaccines from a federal reserve wouldn’t arrive as promised.
FreeMALHEUR COUNTY HEALTH Jan. 14
Malheur County Health Department grapples with switch in how state measures Covid test results
Officials in Malheur County have again adjusted how they report Covid data to the public. Now the county reports only weekly case totals and does not furnish daily updates on positivity rates. The switch happened after the state modified its Covid tracking system.
FreeCOVID: THE HUMAN TOLL Dec. 20
The human toll of COVID-19: 'I don't think any of us really do recover fully'
Her granddaughter didn't have any symptoms and her boyfriend lost his sense of taste and had a fever for a day, Jones said. The World Health Organization estimates that people typically recover in two to six weeks from COVID, but some people may have lingering symptoms following an initial recovery, the WHO states. He sent her back to work because she didn't have any COVID-19 symptoms, Franklin said.