Coronavirus (COVID-19) Timeline

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SALEM — The Oregon Health Authority released its latest COVID-19 update on Monday, Oct. 18, revealing one COVID-19 death in Union County. Read more

SALEM — Oregon government agencies that care for some of the state’s most vulnerable people have been preparing for weeks to prevent likely staff shortages on Tuesday, Oct. 19, when unvaccinated state employees and medical workers must stop in-person work under Gov. Kate Brown’s mandates. Read more

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SALEM — The deadline for Gov. Kate Brown’s vaccination mandates for health care workers, K-12 school employees and some state workers arrives Monday, Oct. 18, and while it’s clear some service disruptions are expected, the state may well avoid mass terminations that will hobble hospitals, cl… Read more

A deadly spike in COVID-19 infections that began just before Independence Day should near its end around Christmas, a new state forecast said Thursday.But with more than two months to go to reach the projected end point, about 177,000 more infections are expected in the state, according to the Oregon Health & Science University weekly forecast released late Thursday.The Oregon Health Authority said Friday that hospitalizations for COVID-19 continue a steady decline in Oregon, with 563 infected patients hospitalized on Friday, less than half the 1,178 recorded Sept. 1Hospital Region 7, which covers eight central Oregon counties and includes Bend and Klamath Falls. Rates of hospitalizations and deaths remain "stubbornly high" in the region.St. Charles Bend had 70 COVID-19 patients according to a Friday OHA tabulation, the most in the state. It reported 11 COVID-19 patients in its intensive care unit, the second highest in the state.Sky Lakes Medical Center in Klamath Falls had 25 COVID-19 patients, the fifth most in the state.The statewide spike in infections, which began in the first week of July and peaked just after Labor Day, has steadily tracked downward since, the report said. The spike was driven by the highly contagious delta variant.However, the forecast projects that the state still has 2.5 months until it might reach "herd immunity" for the delta variant. OHSU says that is when 85% of the population is either vaccinated or has been exposed to the virus.The university's virus modeling projects that Oregon will arrive at that point around Dec. 26.Over that time, the forecast estimates there will be another 177,000 infections in Oregon – enough to fill Autzen Stadium at the University of Oregon three times.The number of "breakthrough" cases of infections in people who have been vaccinated has risen, accounting for 27.2% of new infections in OHA's weekly report released Wednesday. It's one of the reasons that federal and state health officials have moved to approve booster shots of vaccine for those already inoculated. But throughout the spike, severe cases requiring hospitalization and deaths have remained low among vaccinated people compared to those who are unvaccinated.Vaccinated patients account for less than 5% of hospitalizations and less than 1% of deaths.“There’s still time for people to take action to prevent transmissions and to get vaccinated, but we’re projecting that a whole bunch more people are going to get infected in the next month," said Peter Graven, director of the OHSU Office of Advanced Analytics. Oregon recorded 610 deaths in September, the highest monthly total since the pandemic arrived in the state in late February 2020. OHSU said the drop is being aided by an increase in vaccinations, including those motivated by the deadlines for state and federal employee mandates. The state's "immunity index" shows that 22% of Oregonians remain vulnerable to the virus, having neither been vaccinated or exposed to the virus by others.“A lot of people have gotten infected over the past three months, and it’s become harder for the virus to find susceptible people,” Graven said.Graven said that though there remains a large pool of unvaccinated Oregonians who could end up in the hospital. But the worst is likely over."The severe strain on hospitals should ease as the virus finds an ever-shrinking pool of susceptible hosts," Graven said. “It’s going to be increasingly difficult to generate a new surge in hospitalizations."Patients with COVID-19 accounted for 24% of all cases in intensive care units statewide as of Oct. 12. At the peak of the spike, they took up more than 50% of ICU capacity.The OHSU report said the timeline could be slowed by the trend of Oregonians tiring of preventative measures such as wearing masks and avoiding gathering indoors with those outside of their household or outside in large groups. While a high number of deaths have been reported recently, deaths are the last indicator to rise or fall in a spike. The current numbers are projected to decrease, as hospitalizations and infections already have gone down.Test positivity continues to slowly decline. OHA reported the statewide rate at 7.3% on Friday. OHA officials say a rate below 5% is when the number of new infections is within manageable limits. Read more

SALEM — The Oregon Health Authority reported two Union County COVID-19 deaths in its latest update on Friday, Oct. 15. Read more

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SALEM — Oregon Department of Agriculture faces a potential staffing shortage that could impact the scope of services the department provides to the state’s farming community. Read more

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SALEM — Two of Oregon’s most influential unions have bargained with the state to allow employees of the state executive branch more time to comply with Gov. Kate Brown’s mandate, which requires them to be vaccinated by Monday, Oct. 18, or risk losing their job. Read more

WALLOWA — It wasn’t the regular Tamkaliks celebration, but in some ways, it was more as a couple hundred people gathered at the Nez Perce Wallowa Homeland Project to commemorate and bless a restoration project 10 years in the making and share memories of past celebrations. Read more

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UNION COUNTY — The impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the La Grande School District is dropping dramatically. Read more

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SALEM — The Oregon Health Authority revealed its daily report on Wednesday, Oct. 13, which showed nine new COVID-19 cases in Union County and four new cases in Wallowa County. The cases, combined with those in the report from Oct. 12, bring Union County’s total case count since the start of … Read more

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State officials have scheduled six sessions, starting Thursday, Oct. 14, for the public and businesses to weigh in on a rule allowing workers to keep some unemployment benefits even if they have barriers to their returning to work. Read more

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Oregon is relaxing requirements to become a substitute schoolteacher in the face of a widespread shortage currently stretching educators thin. Read more

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UNION COUNTY — Union County’s COVID-19 case count is continuing to increase. Read more

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PENDLETON — The patient had been fighting in the intensive care unit for weeks, and the nurse had grown attached. Read more

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SALEM — The Oregon Health Authority documented 1,453 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases in its report on Thursday, Oct. 7, and 1,580 on Friday, Oct. 8. The 59 deaths Thursday and 23 Friday increase Oregon’s death toll since the start of the pandemic to 3,982. Read more

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LA GRANDE — The La Grande School District’s latest COVID-19 numbers are up moderately from the week of prior. Read more

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SALEM — The Oregon Health Authority documented 12 new COVID-19 cases in Union County and 22 new cases in Wallowa County in its report on Wednesday, Oct. 6. Read more

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PENDLETON — Umatilla County health officials have traced nearly 180 COVID-19 cases to events that occurred during the week of the Pendleton Round-Up. Read more

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SALEM — The Oregon Health Authority reported 3,286 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases and eight new deaths across the state in its report on Monday, Oct. 4, 2021. The report accounts for the three-day period from Oct. 1 through Oct. 3 Read more

Longer-lasting severe infections and public weariness in maintaining pandemic safeguards will delay the end of the record-shattering COVID-19 spike from Halloween to Christmas, a new state forecast predicts. Read more

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SALEM — Oregonians who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, previously called food stamps, now will see a permanent average increase of about $36 per month per person. Read more

SALEM — A new Oregon advocacy group aims to counteract COVID-19 misinformation and is targeting a list of elected conservatives it has dubbed “villains” of the pandemic. Read more

HERMISTON — Not every company is feeling the employment pinch equally, according to some local construction companies and at least one economist. People at N.W. Crane Service Inc. and other companies say they are not having the same problems with staffing other industries. And when they do have personnel issues, they are not related to the pandemic. Read more

SALEM — The Oregon Health Authority detailed 15 new COVID-19 cases and one new death in Union County in its report on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021. Read more

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UNION COUNTY — The La Grande and Imbler school districts continue to be the hardest hit in Union County by COVID-19. Still, the pandemic’s impact is declining in the county’s school districts. Read more

In August, staff at hospitals around Oregon began rationing scarce care among patients to an unprecedented extent, making life-or-death decisions about who gets what treatment. Read more

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SALEM — The Oregon Health Authority recorded 2,011 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases in Oregon on its report for Wednesday, Sept. 29. Read more

SALEM — More than 94,000 unemployed Oregonians lost their weekly benefits this month when multiple federal pandemic aid programs expired at the same time. Read more

SALEM — More Oregonians died with COVID-19 in September than in all but two other months of the pandemic, according to new state data released Monday, Sept. 27. Read more

LA GRANDE — An individualized approach will be used by the La Grande School District when establishing protocols for employees who choose not to be vaccinated before the state-ordered Oct. 18 deadline and instead opt out for a medical or religious exception. Read more

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LA GRANDE — One man was seriously injured in an early morning motor vehicle crash Tuesday, Sept. 28, on Interstate 84, about 12 miles west of La Grande near the Spring Creek Exit. Read more

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SALEM — Gov. Kate Brown said Tuesday, Sept. 28, she was “gravely concerned” about an alarming spike in COVID-19 cases across Eastern Oregon with a common factor — the Pendleton Round-Up. Read more

PENDLETON — Eastern Oregon’s health care system could see a mass exodus of workers come Oct. 18, the deadline for Gov. Kate Brown’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Read more

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SALEM — Union County recorded 69 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, the Oregon Health Authority reported on Monday, Sept. 27. Read more

SALEM — Coronavirus case rates among Oregon children ages 9 and younger are slightly higher in September than for someone who is in their 60s, 70s, or is 80 and older — something that’s never been true before — according to an analysis of reported COVID-19 cases by The Oregonian. Read more

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SALEM — Booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will likely soon be available to Oregonians 65 and older and adults with underlying medical conditions, but state officials warned Thursday, Sept. 23, there might not be enough health care staff to ensure everyone who wants a shot… Read more

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WALLOWA COUNTY — It’s no secret that employers across the state are struggling to find workers. Business owners collectively furrow their brow at the trickle of job applications as more and more businesses open and the share of workers seems to be vanishing into thin air. Read more

LA GRANDE — After spending more than a year dealing with in-person and hybrid learning schedules, officials with Eastern Oregon University are excited at the prospect of campus life resuming a more normal look in 2021-22. Read more

LA GRANDE — The city of La Grande is holding a virtual town hall meeting to address the current state of COVID-19 in Union County. Hosted by Mayor Steve Clements, the town hall will include local health care providers and take input from the public. Read more

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SALEM — In the Oregon Health Authority report from Sept. 24, Union County added 32 more COVID-19 cases. In Wallowa County, eight new COVID-19 cases and one new death were reported. Read more

SALEM — More than half of Oregon’s state employees now have an extra six weeks to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with the deadline pushed back to Nov. 30. Read more

SALEM — Oregon will spend $23.6 million on hazard payments of up to $1,550 for state employees who were required to work in-person during the first 16 months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more

UNION COUNTY — An open letter from the Oregon School Boards Association firmly telling the 1,400 school board members across the state to uphold their oaths of office and follow all laws, even those they disagree with, does not appear to be raising hackles locally. Read more

Oregon businesses have been struggling to find workers all year — especially in the health care and hospitality fields, which have been among the most tumultuous sectors throughout the pandemic. Read more

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SALEM — The Oregon Health Authority announced one new death in Union County from COVID-19 in its report on Wednesday, Sept. 22. Read more

UNION COUNTY — La Grande Fire Chief Emmitt Cornford, like many people, isn’t looking forward to Monday, Oct. 18. Read more

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UNION COUNTY — The first 16 days of the school year have been fast-paced for Doug Hislop, Imbler School District’s interim superintendent. Read more

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LA GRANDE — For the second year in a row, the Union County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has canceled the annual Farmer-Merchant Banquet. Read more

SALEM — Dozens of people in Oregon have contacted the state’s poison center after self-medicating against COVID-19 with a drug used to treat parasites, with five becoming hospitalized and two of them winding up in intensive care units, authorities said Friday, Sept. 17. Read more

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BAKER CITY — Tyler Brown’s family owns one restaurant in Baker City that hasn’t served a meal since before the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in Baker County. Read more

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LA GRANDE — Danita Thamert, like many other health care professionals, believed the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines earlier this year would put the darkest days of the pandemic behind her. Read more

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LA GRANDE — The La Grande High School volleyball team has postponed several games and withdrawn from two upcoming tournaments due to COVID-19 cases within the team. Read more

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PORTLAND — One in five Oregon adults say they are not planning to get vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a new survey of Oregonians by the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center. Read more

​Oregon's record wave of COVID-19 cases appears to have crested, but the long recovery will likely stretch into the winter holiday season. Read more

SALEM — The newest COVID-19 modeling shows Oregon hospitals may be full with COVID-19 patients for another six weeks. Read more

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BAKER CITY — A 32-year-old Baker City man who pleaded guilty in June to receiving a $145,200 federal COVID-19 relief loan on behalf of a fictitious company and then using the money for personal purposes, including buying a $49,000 car, was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison on Thursday… Read more

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SALEM — The Oregon Health Authority on Thursday, Sept. 16, reported four new COVID-19 deaths in Wallowa County, bringing the total during the pandemic to 10. Three of the deaths were from cases during the most-recent surge of the virus, which started in July, and a fourth was from earlier in the year.  Read more

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LA GRANDE — The Union County Board of Commissioners, in an effort to better position itself to deal with a looming crisis, passed a resolution declaring an emergency due to the likelihood the county will soon be suffering a staffing shortage of health care and public safety workers. Read more

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LA GRANDE — National Guard members have arrived at many Eastern Oregon hospitals as the COVID-19 pandemic reaches its apex in recent cases caused by the virulent delta variant. Read more

SALEM — The Oregon Health Authority announced 40 new cases of COVID-19 in Union County, according to a Wednesday, Sept. 15, press release. Read more

LA GRANDE — The Union County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution stating concern for the foreseeable future regarding an insufficient amount of qualified local staff to continue to provide basic public health and safety services to the citizens of Union County. Read more

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HERMISTON — The Eastern Oregon Economic Summit has been postponed until June 2022 due to the continued surge of the delta variant of COVID-19 and to facilitate full participation by attendees, panelists and speakers. Read more

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SALEM — Leaders of the Oregon School Boards Association recently admonished school board members across the state to uphold their oaths of office and follow all laws, even those they disagree with. Read more

UNION COUNTY — The firing of Adrian School District Superintendent Kevin Purnell by his school board on Monday, Aug. 30, dismayed area school leaders. Read more

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SALEM — Union County recorded 70 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, according to the Oregon Health Authority. Read more

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PORTLAND — With COVID cases surging in Idaho's panhandle and hospitals there exceeding capacity, the state of Idaho recently activated its crisis standards of care. Read more

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LA GRANDE — The COVID-19 pandemic has La Grande School District officials worried about the possibility of needing significantly more substitute staff later this school year. Read more

ADRIAN — The Adrian School District will pay former superintendent Kevin Purnell more than $100,000 as part of the settlement he signed when being terminated last week. Read more

PORTLAND — More than 7.5 million Americans no longer have access to supplemental unemployment benefits from the federal government, and in Oregon, tens of thousands of people stand to lose money. Read more

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LA GRANDE — Enterprise isn’t the largest town in Eastern Oregon, with a population of 2,052. But it’s just a few miles from the ever-popular town of Joseph and its vistas across Wallowa Lake to the peaks of the Eagle Cap Wilderness. Read more

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The next building going east on Adams Avenue in downtown La Grande is 1212 Adams, currently the home of Country Financial. According to the National Register of Historic Places it was constructed around 1892, but the name of the builder was unknown. Read more

ENTERPRISE — Statewide, hospitals have been near or even at their capacity, with more than 1,100 people in Oregon hospitalized due to coronavirus and the state exceeding 90% capacity. Read more

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LA GRANDE — Union County has reported nearly 200 COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks, showing signs that cases are beginning to lull slightly from peak totals in mid-August. Read more

Add Kentucky bluegrass seed to the list of eligible commodities under the USDA's Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.  Read more

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WALLOWA COUNTY — As the latest surge of coronavirus hits Wallowa County, few businesses have been forced to close but there is a renewed interest in requiring face masks and sanitizing business premises. Read more

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SALEM — Schools should cancel or curtail some extracurricular activities to help Oregon maintain what appears to be the beginning of a decline from record high numbers of COVID-19 infections, Gov. Kate Brown said Tuesday, Sept. 7. Read more

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LA GRANDE — The Oregon Health Authority reported 54 deaths from COVID-19 and 5,821 new confirmed and presumptive cases in Oregon between Friday, Sept. 3, and Monday, Sept. 6. The most recent report for Tuesday showed another 2,352 cases and 47 deaths.  Read more

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BEND — With record job growth in Oregon, Whitney Keatman never imagined she would have problems finding workers for her Scott Street location of Sparrow Bakery. Read more

LA GRANDE — Eastern Oregon sheriff’s offices reaffirmed they would not enforce the mask mandates Gov. Kate Brown set in place. As well, a number of sheriffs across Eastern Oregon, including in Baker and Union counties, have addressed the matter in letters to the governor stating they will no… Read more

UNION COUNTY — In what felt like a somewhat normal summer, many local events returned to Northeastern Oregon after being canceled in 2020. However, as Union and Wallowa counties experienced record high COVID-19 cases in August, many late-summer and early-fall events have been canceled or modified. Read more

PORTLAND — Oregon officials say unvaccinated people accounted for more than 84% of the state's recent COVID-19 cases. Read more

LA GRANDE — The La Grande area experienced slightly warmer than normal temperatures during the month of August, according to preliminary data received by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service Office in Pendleton. Read more

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JOHN DAY — Health leaders in Grant and Harney counties cite fears of worker shortages as the virus surges among unvaccinated people. Read more

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EUGENE — The University of Oregon and Oregon State University announced on Wednesday, Sept. 1, that they are requiring weekly COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated students and employees. Read more

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LA GRANDE — The La Grande City Council passed a resolution declaring a state of emergency at its monthly meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 1. Read more

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LA GRANDE — The Union County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution on Wednesday, Sept. 1, protesting the statewide mandate requiring all teachers, school staff, school volunteers, health care workers and state employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19. Read more

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ADRIAN — Kevin Purnell was fired Monday as superintendent of the Adrian School District just one week after students returned to school. Read more

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PORTLAND — During Oregon’s ongoing COVID-19 surge, doctors say that they are seeing sicker and younger patients than at any other point throughout the pandemic. Read more

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SALEM — Jobs in restaurants and taverns frequently sit at the bottom end of the pay scale, with waiters, line cooks and bartenders sometimes treated as easily replaceable — and paid accordingly. Read more

LA GRANDE — In difficult times, a community-based organization is providing some relief to families impacted by COVID-19. Read more

SALEM — Oregon health officials have seen an increase in children with COVID-19 cases severe enough to require hospitalization and said it mirrors a national trend. State health officials said nine babies, toddlers or preschoolers were hospitalized in Oregon this week according to the state, plus one child aged 6 to 11 and one child aged 12 to 17. Read more

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LA GRANDE — Vaccination rates across most Eastern Oregon rose nearly 3% as the delta variant of COVID-19 surges in the nation. According to Oregon Health Authority data, more than 98% of all new COVID-19 infections are from the delta variant. Read more