The rising number of COVID-19 cases in Douglas County may impact schools as early as next week.

Douglas County had 35 new COVID-19 cases in the week ending Oct. 24, or 31.2 per 100,000, according to data released Monday by the Oregon Health Authority.

This means that — while schools can remain open this week — if that number doesn’t go down, schools could be forced to close their doors next week and start, or restart, distance learning.

Roseburg Public Schools Superintendent Jared Cordon sent a letter Monday afternoon to the families of students in kindergarten to third grade, who are currently able to attend in-person classes in Roseburg.

“The current metrics mandated by the state include a contingency plan for schools that have reopened to in-person learning,” Cordon wrote. “The current plan states that if cases reach 30 or more per 100,000 people in a county for two weeks in a row, then schools will need to transition back to remote learning. The county’s case numbers released today were 31.2 per 100,000. If next Monday, we again reach 30 or more cases per 100,000 then we will need to prepare to transition back to remote learning.”

Cordon added that families will be informed as soon as the district makes a decision on how to proceed.

Assistant Superintendent Michelle Knee said, “Cases in Douglas County have been on the rise and we want our students, staff and families to be prepared for the possibility of returning to remote learning in the event it is necessary. It is our goal to keep K-3 students in school in person and ultimately bring all of our students safely back to our buildings.”

There have not been any reported outbreaks among students in Roseburg Public Schools.

Other schools have seen students who have tested positive for COVID-19, but there has been no confirmed spread.

Douglas County Public Health Officer Bob Dannenhoffer said: “We have seen several local school cases, but have not seen any confirmed spread in schools. All of these cases seem to have been part of family spread, that is a family member gives it to the student, and the student goes to school either before they have symptoms or after they have symptoms. We are carefully monitoring the number of cases in the county, and in schools and at this time, do not recommend any change in school openings. I do strongly recommend that parents do not send their kids to school if they are sick with any symptoms: fever, cough, diarrhea, stomach upset, runny nose or sore throat. If kids are sick, they should stay home until the symptoms resolve, plus another day.”

Douglas Public Health Network released a video on Saturday that addresses some of the commonly asked questions regarding the coronavirus and schools. The video can be seen on the DPHN’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.

The Oregon Department of Education’s health metrics released earlier this year state that if there are more than 30 cases per 100,000 for more than one week schools will need to initiate distance learning. Schools would also need to initiate distance learning if the county test positivity rate is above 10%, but that number was at 3.9% last week.

However, Oregon Department of Education Director Colt Gill said schools that opened under an exception will not need to close.

“For schools that have opened under any one of the exceptions to the public health metrics for reopening schools for in person K-12 instruction, including the K-3 exception, they should consider the spread of COVID-19 within schools and the broader community in deciding to temporarily return to Comprehensive Distance Learning,” Gill said.

In Douglas County, many schools opened under exceptions including all elementary schools in the Roseburg school district.

Gill added that if there are two or more cohorts with unrelated COVID-19 cases, districts should discuss the impact on the community with local public health officials.

“It is encouraged that the school follows recommendations from their local public health authority on whether a temporary move to Comprehensive Distance Learning (for two weeks or longer) is recommended to protect the health and safety of the students, staff and families,” Gill said.

Douglas County COVID-19 Response Team spokesperson Tamara Howell said the keywords for the local health authority are consult, discuss and recommend.

“While Dr. Bob Dannenhoffer, our Douglas County Public Health Officer has been working directly with most of our local schools, his job is to consult, discuss and make recommendations to local school officials about health and safety related issues based on the current state guidelines,” Howell said. “All guidelines for schools during COVID-19 are set by the state (OHA and ODE). Further, it is up to the individual school district, and their elected school boards, to follow the state guidelines, and then decide how they will operate and implement them.”

Similarly, the county will not enforce school closures but will instead leave that up to the Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Education.

Last week, Gov. Kate Brown released a plan to review the health metrics and get more students back into the classroom.

“Returning to in-person instruction safely is key to ensuring Oregon’s students are receiving a high-quality education that prepares them for lifelong success,” Brown said. “But our schools and our educators do so much more than teach and inspire students.

“Our schools provide warm and nutritious meals to students who are hungry. They are health centers. They provide for students’ mental health and well-being. And, at the center of it all, are the teachers, nurses, counselors, librarians, and support professionals who, every day, build the personal, individual connections with students that are so crucial to their lifelong success.”

The governor’s office said new data on schools reopening has become available while adding that increased community spread of COVID-19 presents a major obstacle in returning to the classroom.

According to the Oregon Department of Education, approximately 45,000 students currently received at least some in-person instruction in Oregon schools last week.

“In order to get our kids back into the classroom, we need concerted, community-wide efforts to drive down COVID-19 case rates — by wearing face coverings, watching our physical distance, washing our hands, and forgoing large social gatherings,” Brown said. “It’s on all of us to work together to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, so we can open schools and keep them open safely.”

Sanne Godfrey can be reached at sgodfrey@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4203.

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mworden

Dear News-Review Editors and Reporters -- I checked Mike's source and his info about Evergreen Family Medicine having a workplace outbreak is accurate. But it is only one line in a long document. Considering Dr. John Powell's use of guest columns in the N-R to promote his controversial opinions on covid, I would really appreciate it if a reporter looked into this outbreak and gave the public more info. Evergreen Family Medicine and Urgent Care treat thousands of local patients.

CitizenJoe

mworden: good point.

Mike

Douglas County now has its first teacher or volunteer infected in a school by coronavirus. According to the Oregon Health Authority weekly report (below link), Sutherlin East Elementary School added another case since last week and now has a total of 3 cases. The report indicates the new case was a staff/volunteer.

https://www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/DISEASESCONDITIONS/DISEASESAZ/Emerging%20Respitory%20Infections/COVID-19-Weekly-Report-2020-10-28-FINAL.pdf

Mike

Evergreen Family Medicine on Edenbower Blvd was reported today as Douglas County’s newest workplace outbreak according to the Oregon Health Authority (below link). Evergreen has 5 confirmed cases. The first case tested positive on October 15. The fifth case tested positive on October 20.

https://www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/DISEASESCONDITIONS/DISEASESAZ/Emerging%20Respitory%20Infections/COVID-19-Weekly-Report-2020-10-28-FINAL.pdf

Evergreen is the third medical facility in Douglas County declared a workplace outbreak, the other two being Mercy Medical Center (twice) and Roseburg’s Veterans Affairs. What makes this especially noteworthy is Evergreen’s CEO Dr. John Powell has been an outspoken and frequent critic of Governor Brown’s coronavirus restrictions, arguing instead for a discredited Herd Immunity policy that medical experts say would result in a huge death toll. According to Dr. Powell, his high fatality approach is unanimously supported by the Board of Directors at Evergreen Family Medicine which is owned by Mercy Medical Center. It appears the Board of Directors is now getting exactly what Dr. Powell is advocating. His employees are now becoming infected. I just hope the patients at his facility aren’t going to be sacrificed to satisfy his unproven theories and political agenda. Maybe Dr. Powell and Evergreen’s other Directors should consider intentionally infecting theirs selves and their families with coronavirus to prove they can walk the talk and get their Herd Immunity going.

Also worth mentioning is Evergreen’s failure to notify their patients of their active workplace outbreak which is endangering their more vulnerable patients. Dr. Powell’s employees may buy in to Herd Immunity, but we patients aren’t paying money to have our lives threatened for someone’s political agenda. Evergreen’s Facebook page (below link) doesn’t mention the word “coronavirus” or “COVID” for the past month. With an on-going pandemic, I can’t imagine why a healthcare facility would not even talk about, let alone warn its patients about a workplace outbreak.

https://www.facebook.com/EvergreenFamilyMedicineRoseburg/

As I mentioned, Mercy Medical Center owns Evergreen. And guess what? Dr. John Powell is also a Mercy Medical Center’s Board Director. That may explain why Mercy Medical Center has experienced two workplace outbreaks; one is an active workplace outbreak with 15 cases and the second is a resolved workplace outbreak from August with 10 more cases. Mercy Medical Center and Evergreen Family Medicine are probably the two largest medical facilities in Douglas County. It’s pretty scary that a top leader from both of those facilities is an advocate of Herd Immunity. That may explain why both Mercy and Evergreen have active workplace outbreaks. That may also explain why people may want to drive to Eugene or Portland if they think they have Coronavirus.

Douglas County Commissioners publish a DAILY coronavirus press release that has failed to mention Evergreen’s workplace outbreak they’ve know about for nearly two weeks.

CitizenJoe

Well, Mike, I did check out the Facebook page, and it *does* mention the virus: it features Dr. Powell's paean to the pathogen, his political polemic against science.

I mean, honestly: why don't they point with *pride* to how many people they've managed to infect? Maybe a reader-board outside with a running tally? "Join The Herd! Two new cases today!"

Mike

It's easy for Dr. Powell to tell other people what to do. To avoid hypocrisy, he needs to infect HIS family and himself to get the Herd Immunity ball rolling.

Mike

Roseburg Forest Products is having its second workplace outbreak according to the Oregon Health Authority weekly report (below link) published today. RFP currently has an active workplace outbreak of 5 cases at their Winston facility. The first case occurred on October 8. The fifth case was reported on October 9. Apparently there was miscommunication between Douglas County Public Health Network and OHA causing the Winston facility to not be listed as an outbreak on last week’s OHA report.

https://www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/DISEASESCONDITIONS/DISEASESAZ/Emerging%20Respitory%20Infections/COVID-19-Weekly-Report-2020-10-28-FINAL.pdf

RFP’s second workplace outbreak, also of 5 cases, at their Riddle facility has been deemed “resolved” by the OHA. The Riddle facility’s first case occurred on September 11. The fifth case was reported on September 16.

A key word search for “coronavirus” and “COVID” finds no mention of either on RFP’s Facebook page (below link) for the last month.

https://www.facebook.com/RoseburgForestProducts/

Mike

The Oregon Health Authority reported coronavirus cases for each Douglas County zip codes as of October 25 (below link).

97417: 9

97435: 9

97442: 9

97443: 9

97457: 43

97462: 16

97467: 9

97469: 9

97470: 65

97471: 91

97479: 54

97495: 9

97496: 17

97499: 9

https://www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/DISEASESCONDITIONS/DISEASESAZ/Emerging%20Respitory%20Infections/COVID-19-Weekly-Report-2020-10-28-FINAL.pdf

Mike

Roseburg Veterans Affairs workplace outbreak continues to expand with 4 new cases since last week according to the Oregon Health Authority report (below link) published today. The VA now has 13 positive cases associated with its workers and staff. The first case tested positive on September 18. The VA national website reports Roseburg’s VA has 46 total coronavirus cases.

https://www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/DISEASESCONDITIONS/DISEASESAZ/Emerging%20Respitory%20Infections/COVID-19-Weekly-Report-2020-10-28-FINAL.pdf

A search of the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Facebook page (below link) over the past month does not mention the word “coronavirus.” A similar search for “COVID” links several articles where U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs brags about low VA coronavirus cases. I found zero mention of the on-going coronavirus workplace outbreak.

https://www.facebook.com/VARoseburg

Douglas County Commissioners publish a DAILY coronavirus press release from their Coronavirus Response Team. The VA workplace outbreak has NOT been mentioned in their press releases they’ve known about since September 18. Our Commissioners find it more important to tell the public about changes to the Veteran’s Day Parade than warning families and workers about coronavirus outbreaks at the VA.

Mike

Timber Town Senior Living Center in Sutherlin was reported today as a new senior living community outbreak by the Oregon Health Authority (below link). Timber Town has 4 confirmed cases and 0 deaths. The first case tested positive on October 19.

Timber Town is the second senior living community outbreak reported in Douglas County. Umpqua Valley Nursing Center in Roseburg was the first senior living community outbreak reported by the OHA and has 11 confirmed cases and 0 deaths. Umpqua Valley’s first case tested positive on August 31.

Douglas County Commissioners Coronavirus Response Team publishes a DAILY coronavirus press release. NEITHER one of these senior living community outbreaks have EVER been mentioned in their press releases they’ve known about since August 31. Our Commissioners find it more important to tell the public about changes to the Veteran’s Day Parade than warning families and health care workers about coronavirus outbreaks.

https://www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/DISEASESCONDITIONS/DISEASESAZ/Emerging%20Respitory%20Infections/COVID-19-Weekly-Report-2020-10-28-FINAL.pdf

Mike

4 new cases were reported in today’s press release from our County Commissioners Coronavirus Response Team, bringing Douglas County’s total to 364 cases and 8 deaths. Half of the deaths occurred over just the past week.

Today’s press release indicates Dr. Dannenhoffer notified Winston Middle School six days ago on October 22 that one of their students had tested positive for coronavirus. The Commissioner’s issue a coronavirus press release every day and has devoted a significant portion of recent press releases to the Veterans Day parade. The public should question if a parade is more important than public safety considering it took 6 days for the County Commissioners to notify and warn the public and parents of children about coronavirus at Winston Middle School.

A total of 9 Douglas County schools have NOW reported at least one student who has tested positive for coronavirus. Douglas County has coronavirus cases in 1 preschool, 4 different middle schools, 3 different high schools and UCC.

Roseburg Veterans Affairs reported 1 new coronavirus case yesterday afternoon that was identified on October 23 but not reported on the National VA website until yesterday. Roseburg’s VA is currently reporting 9 active cases, 2 of which are employees. Roseburg’s VA has reported 46 total cases with 9 of those being employees/staff. Be forewarned, the Oregon Health Authority has identified both Mercy Medical Center and Roseburg’s VA as being an on-going workplace outbreak.

The County Commissioners Coronavirus Response Team reported 31 coronavirus cases and received 645 test results over the past week. Dividing 31 cases by 645 test results gives Douglas County a 7-day positive test rate of 4.8% today.

Contrary to what this article reports, Douglas County’s 7-day positive test rate was 5.4% on October 24, NOT 3.9%. October 15 was the last day Douglas County’s 7-day positive test rate was as low as 3.9%.

The six counties surrounding Douglas County reported 83 new coronavirus cases and one death in Coos County and one death in Jackson County today. All 6 counties surrounding Douglas County have now reported at least 1 death from coronavirus and have reported a total of 5,464 cases and 50 deaths. The six counties surrounding Douglas County have reported 520 cases and 8 deaths over the past week.

The Oregon Health Authority reported 420 new coronavirus cases and 7 deaths today. The 7-day positive test rate for Oregon increased to 6.8% today.

mworden

From the daily report: REMINDER: Aviva Health Offering Veterans Free Drive-Thru Flu Shots at the 2020 Veterans’ Day Parade

Please, everyone, get a flu shot.

Mike

Oregon Department of Education Director Colt Gill said, “It is encouraged that the school follows recommendations from their local public health authority on whether a temporary move to Comprehensive Distance Learning (for two weeks or longer) is recommended to protect the health and safety of the students, staff and families.”

Douglas County resident’s “local public health authority” is the Douglas County Public Health Network run by Dr. Dannenhoffer and our County Commissioners. I have previously listed numerous false, untruthful and misleading statements indicating Dr. Dannenhoffer’s attempt to downplay coronavirus. I can re-post them if anyone is interested. It is especially noteworthy that Dr. Dannenhoffer never wanted schools to shut down in the first place. Contrary to worldwide experts, Dr. Dannenhoffer advised Douglas County School Superintendents (below link) to NOT close schools to minimize the spread of coronavirus, arguing closing schools would increase coronavirus spread. Keep this in mind when listening to Dr. Dannenhoffer’s advice on how best to protect your children.

http://www.nrtoday.com/news/health/coronavirus/gov-kate-brown-announces-school-closures-amid-coronavirus-outbreak/article_fc86767e-11b1-5cb8-ae47-322562230a65.html

Mike

Douglas County Public Health Officer Dr. Bob Dannenhoffer is attempting to mislead parents when he said: “We have seen several local school cases, but have not seen any confirmed spread in schools.”

There hasn’t been confirmed spread because DPHN doesn’t test for it. DPHN’s guidance is to isolate children in the same cohort as the student who has tested positive which is CONTRARY to CDC guidance to isolate AND test everyone in close and direct contact.

Dr. Dannenhoffer is placing children and families at risk by not testing children and their families in close or direct contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.

Mike

23 of Oregon's 36 counties had case rates over 30 in the latest OHA school metrics report at the below link.

https://www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/DISEASESCONDITIONS/DISEASESAZ/Emerging%20Respitory%20Infections/Weekly-County-Metrics.pdf

CitizenJoe

Meanwhile, Skarlatos is doing unmasked events, too. https://www.facebook.com/PeterDeFazioOregon/posts/10157890113739370

Mike

Things aren't looking so good for schools right now. Douglas County has already had 13 cases and in the three days since October 24.

You can thank our County Commissioners and Dr. Dannenhoffer for your kids not being able to go to school because of their downplaying of the pandemic from the start. Their politicizing of of this disease can be attributed to Douglas County's 8 deaths and should be considered criminal.

CitizenJoe

So we are at 31.2/100,000/week; South Dakota is at 115/100,000/day--26 times as high as we are now. So we have to work hard to catch up. Go, Boice! Go, Dallas!

Go, Republicans.

Just go.

Mike

Commissioner Boice should be announcing another anti-mask rally any time now like the one he led in September at the County Courthouse.

melrosereader

The recklessness of Commissioner Boice and Senator Heard in setting an example not to wear masks, and encouraging people to practice their "freedom"- not to mention the malfeasance of *resident Trump- probably contributed to this mess.

Unfortunately, local members of the GOP have swallowed the baloney hook line and sinker, thereby endangering the rest of us.

Vote them out. Your life may depend on it.

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