PENDLETON — Umatilla County reported more COVID-19 deaths in August than any month since the pandemic began.
The county in a press release Wednesday reported its 126th COVID-19 death.
The disclosure raises August’s death toll to 22, topping the county’s previous monthly record set in July 2020.
The record-setting spike in COVID-19 deaths comes after a dramatic surge in cases driven by the delta variant, which shattered pandemic records, infected large amounts of unvaccinated people and filled regional hospitals.
This year, the unvaccinated have accounted for approximately 49 out of every 50 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Umatilla County, according to data from the county’s health department.
“Our hospital system is plugged up right now with unvaccinated people with COVID,” said Dr. Jon Hitzman, Umatilla County’s public health officer.
Since the pandemic started, the rate at which COVID-19 has infected and killed Umatilla County residents has been among the highest of all Oregon counties, according to a newsroom analysis of state data. Just six Oregon counties have reported a higher death rate than Umatilla County.
The county’s death rate is now nearly twice as high as some densely populated Portland metro counties such as Multnomah County, which has more than 10 times as many people, state data show.