ENTERPRISE — This summer’s Fourth of July fireworks show at Wallowa Lake is on hold.
Fireworks coordinator Mike Lockhart delivered the update Wednesday to the Wallowa County Board of Commissioners, citing the steep rise in COVID-19 cases in neighboring Union County.
“At this time, we have most everything ready to go,” he said. “The contractor is ready. We have the money. We have approval from the sheriff’s office and Paul Karvoski, head of Wallowa County Emergency Management. We are down to the point of signing the contract.”
But things can change rapidly these days.
“As the situation in La Grande popped up, the landscape changed a little bit,” Lockhart said. “At this point in time we are just holding off a little bit to see how that develops. We don’t want to do anything that’s irresponsible.”
Lockhart said the group is considering ways people might be able to attend by watching the show from their vehicles or other measures, which he didn’t specify.
The fireworks are in a similar situation to what Chief Joseph Days had been, he said.
“We will wait as long as we can before we make an announcement,” he said. “But we don’t have a set date for that decision in mind.”
Commissioner Todd Nash thanked Lockhart for his transparency and for voluntarily providing the commission and the public with an update on plans.
“It’s going to be a hard thing to give up. In light of what’s gone on in La Grande, you need to make your decisions based on that,” he said.
Wallowa County resident Bruce Macke expressed concern about the potential for the spread of coronavirus in Wallowa County, now that it has exploded in a neighboring county. Macke recently retired from teaching science at Cove High School. He brought that experience to bear in his pleas for the commissioners to recognize and address the threat posed by a serious COVID-19 outbreak close at hand.
“This outbreak is way beyond the number posted by the Oregon Health Authority this week,” he said. “Some 240 cases have been out there (contagious, spreading the disease) for two weeks, and the numbers are much greater than those who have been diagnosed. To be honest about it, there could be 1,000 infections in Union County, easily. We have a wildfire in La Grande.”
Commissioners assured Macke they were consulting with the medical community.
Commissioner John Hillock noted the board was set to meet with the hospital and other medical leaders.
“We have a shipment of N95 masks coming and we are happy to give one to anyone who wants one,” Commissioner Susan Roberts said.
The Oregon Health Authority announced a fifth positive COVID-19 case Thursday in Wallowa County. The person is a Wallowa County resident in their 30s and isolating while recovering.