Tillamook County has a message for would-be visitors during the remaining weeks of summer: Please stay home; our hospital and morgue are at or near capacity.
That’s not an exaggeration.
“The COVID Delta variant is spreading like wildfire among the unvaccinated in our community,” the county’s Board of Commissioners said in a press release.
Issued on Tuesday, Aug. 24, the release described the Delta variant’s rapid infection rate, with 361 new COVID-19 cases reported in just the last two weeks. That’s more than the entire first 10 months of the pandemic, which saw 325 people test positive from March 2020 through Jan. 1, 2021.
Commissioners added that Adventist Health Tillamook, a 25-bed hospital, had 17 patients—seven with COVID—at the beginning of this week. The surge has forced that facility to suspend elective surgeries, convert the intensive health care unit and medical/surgery unit into COVID wards, and limit most visitors.
While the hospital would normally transfer critically ill individuals to Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, that’s no longer a given option, since OHSU is also experiencing a flood of patients.
The situation is now so grim that commissioners say they have ordered a refrigerated morgue truck from the state. That decision was prompted once Waud’s Funeral Home, located in Tillamook, reached its licensed maximum capacity of nine bodies. From Aug. 18 to 23, there were six new COVID deaths, and commissioners anticipate more.
Given those alarming numbers, county leaders are asking people to get vaccinated—if they have yet to do so—and call off any planned gatherings.
“Cancel or reschedule in-person meetings, events and celebrations,” the release stated. “Work and gather remotely whenever possible. These are the darkest days of the pandemic so far, and everyone is at risk.”
And they’re not the only ones who want people to restrict their travel. On Monday, Aug. 23, the Tillamook County Parks Department announced that it would not allow any new camping reservations, in an attempt to preserve the health and safety of staff and guests. The restrictions do not have an expiration date at this point.
The department will honor all previously booked stays for the immediate future, but the showers will remain closed—at all facilities—to help quell the spread of the virus. For additional information about canceling or rescheduling your reservation, campers are asked to visit the parks department website.
Meanwhile, in neighboring Lincoln County, popular tourist destination Chinook Winds Casino shared on social media that it will extend its COVID closure.
The Lincoln City resort shut its doors again, on Aug. 12, due to the state’s sharp rise in cases. That temporary halt was estimated to last for about two weeks. However, the Siletz Tribal Council and Chinook Winds executive team decided this week that the danger posed by the Delta variant warranted a longer suspension of operations.
The new targeted reopening is set for Sept. 2. All hotel reservations prior to that will be automatically canceled and refunded.