ONTARIO — COVID-19 cases are spiking in Malheur County, according to information released from Malheur County Health Department on Monday afternoon. While weekly numbers are available on the agency’s website, this is the first time the agency has sent a news release out about numbers since May.

“Our case investigators are hearing about young people being hospitalized with the virus,” reads a portion of the email sent from Angie Sillonis, public information officer for the department.

She said there were three weeks in 2020 in which new cases exceeded more than 100. That trend is making coming back, with the following two weeks worth of cases in the triple-digit mark.

Sillonis said three weeks ago, there were 113 new cases of COVID, and 146 for the most recent week of Aug. 22-28. This is with cases at Snake River Correctional Institution removed, as “people believe SRCI is driving our numbers,” she said.

According to the COVID-19 data tracker housed by Oregon Department of Corrections, SRCI reported 13 cases from Aug. 23-27, with seven of those case being inmates.

Sillonis says the new cases bring the county’s positivity rate to 18.6% currently, when compared to tests.

She then reminded people of the free testing and vaccination clinic that are every Tuesday, starting today, for the next four weeks, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Malheur County fairgrounds.

People should enter from the south entrance, following the signs and stay in their vehicles to get either tested, vaccinated or both. However, participants do not have to get both.

Free testing and vaccination for COVID-19 is coming back in full force with Malheur County Health Department announcing on Aug. 26 drive-thru events on Tuesdays for the next four weeks. All three vaccines will be available.

Test results will take about 15 minutes. Only people whose tests are positive will be contacted. People receiving vaccinations will be asked to wait 15 minutes before departing the area. Testing is for people of all ages, and vaccinations can be accessed by people age 12 and older.

“It is up to each of us to do everything we can to protect our neighbors, friends and loved ones,” Sillonis said.

In Baker County, where cases are also spiking, the Baker County Health Department is hosting a virtual town hall to discuss hospital capacity with a county commissioner and health officer, doctors and medical staff from St. Luke’s and Saint Alphonsus.

Anyone who is interested in hearing about hospital capacity in our neighboring county can attend the meeting by phone or computer. To join by phone, call (877) 853-5247, then enter meeting ID 839 6510 8083 and passcode 559535. To join by computer,

To join by computer, visit, https://bit.ly/2WJGJdv and then enter passcode 559535.

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