By Joanne Rideout.
The Hood to Coast Relay Race will proceed this weekend, bringing thousands of runners to Seaside, during a time when COVID-19 cases are rising again and rural hospitals risk being overwhelmed. Rebecca Coplin is interim chief executive at Providence Seaside Hospital.
“I would say that in many ways this is a typical year. The coast has seen a lot of visitors this year. It’s a bit uncertain exactly how busy the Hood to Coast will be.”
The event is happening Friday and Saturday. Coplin said the hospital does see an increase in emergency room traffic during the summer months. Hood to Coast organizers told KGW TV in Portland that there would be up to 16,000 runners this year, down from the usual 20,000. Participants run the 199-mile course from Mt Hood to Seaside in teams, and travel together in vans. Participants are being asked, but not required, to wear masks and practice social distancing.
“Well I think that the precautions that they’re putting in place really are the precautions we’ve been hearing all along. The precautions to wear a mask, to get vaccinated, to socially distance. So we are optimistic that by following the same precautions we’ve been hearing for many many months, that will mitigate much of the risk.”
Even so, Coplin said it’s hard to predict what everyone’s behaviors will actually be.
“We are doing everything that we can do to be prepared. We have plans in place in case we need to increase our capacity to care for people.”
Coplin said the hospital is so far holding its own with regard to COVID patients.
“I would say it has varied by day, it has varied by week. And that is what many of our other hospitals in the state are seeing. So we were in a different place last week than we are this week. We’re starting off this week with very few Covid patients, which is different than last week.
For residents who are worried about elevated risks during Hood to Coast, Coplin had the same advice health professionals have been giving all along during the pandemic: wear a mask, practice social distancing, and get vaccinated.
Providence Health & Services, which owns Seaside Providence Hospital, is one of the sponsors of the Hood to Coast Relay Race
Hood to Coast organizers did not respond to a phone call or an email from KMUN for this story. I’m Joanne Rideout in Astoria.