UCo Health announces 51st COVID-related death

PENDLETON – Umatilla County Public Health reported the county’s 51st death of a person who tested positive for COVID-19. The 74-year-old man tested positive on Nov. 24 and died Nov. 30 at Providence St. Mary Medical Center in Walla Walla. He had underlying medical conditions.

Most of the COVID-19-related deaths are of people with underlying medical conditions. Umatilla County Public Health Director Joseph Fiumara says that’s a fact that is not up for debate.

“Having underlying conditions is not typically a death sentence,” he said. “We’re all going to have our time. We’re all headed in the same direction. We’re just getting there at a different pace. This virus definitely shortens that time line for folks with various conditions.”

The Centers for Disease Control recently released a list of the underlying conditions that seem to bring on the most severe COVID-19 illnesses. They include moderate to severe asthma, cystic fibrosis, cerebrovascular disease, high blood pressure, weakened immune system due to blood or bone marrow transplants, immune deficiencies, HIV, and the use of corticosteroids or other immunity-weakening medicines.

A number of neurological conditions are also listed by the CDC. They include dementia, liver disease, damaged or scarred lung tissues, a blood disorder called thalassemia, type-one diabetes, pulmonary fibrosis, smoking, and pregnancy.