Even as the highly transmissible delta variant of COVID-19 rapidly spreads, vaccines continue to remain effective at preventing illness, hospitalization and death. In June, 36 of 37 people who got COVID-19 in Wasco County were unvaccinated, according to North Central Public Health District (NCPHD).

NCPHD also revised the total number of deaths July 22, with two additional deaths added to the count. The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) added one COVID-19 death each to the Wasco County and Sherman County totals. The deaths occurred last December and January, and each happened in another state. These deaths occurred last winter, before vaccines were widely available to the public.

That brings Wasco County’s total death count to 31, and Sherman County’s to 2. The OHA announced earlier it was adding a number of previous deaths to the state’s totals.

According to OHA, Hood River County has a total death count of 34 and averages 1 new case each week.

According to Klickitatcounty.org, Klickitat County has a total death count of 11 and 21 active cases, 17 of which are in Goldendale, as of July 22. In Klickitat County, vaccine appointments can be scheduled online at klickitatcounty.org/1187/Klickitat-County-Coronavirus-Response.

The latest data from NCPHD and the Hood River County Health Departments show the vaccines to be highly protective. “Even as the highly transmissible delta variant of COVID-19 rapidly spreads, the vaccines continue to remain effective at preventing illness, hospitalization and death,”NCPHD stated.

Vaccines are currently widely available at local pharmacies, local doctor’s offices, One Community Health and at NCPHD. To schedule a vaccine appointment at NCPHD, please call 541-506-2600.

Volunteers need for local study

Two COVID-19 testing research studies have begun in The Dalles at North Central Public Health District office, and each study provides a $50 VISA gift card to participants.

The larger study is open to anyone 18 and older, regardless of whether they’ve had COVID or been vaccinated.

Researchers, who speak English and Spanish, will be in The Dalles most weekdays for the next two weeks.

It asks people to complete a survey and provide either a saliva sample and a nasal COVID-19 test, or two nasal COVID tests. The nasal tests are not the deep probe swab, nor are they the shallow swab. They are midway between the two.

The researchers will take walk-in or scheduled appointments. To participate, call 503-593-3076 or email RADxOregon@ohsu.edu. People can complete the needed survey at home and go to NCPHD, at 419 E. 7th St., for the saliva or nasal test.

The study is funded by the National Institute of Health, and Oregon Health & Science is partnering with NCPHD in The Dalles and One Community Health in Hood River on the research. The two study sites in the Gorge are the only rural study sites in the nation. The saliva and nasal samples collected will go into a biorepository bank at the University of Massachusetts.

The goal of the research project is to create a reliable, self-serve COVID Laura Ferrara, research coordinator test that people could operate themselves at venues such as at sports bars or airports, said Laura Ferrara, research coordinator for this project with OHSU.

Researchers hope to get 100 local participants in that study. They will work to accommodate people’s schedules, Farrar said.