Erik Swallow is tired.

Not because of the hours he spends as the interim director of the Umpqua Valley Public Defenders office. What’s making Swallow tired is a breakthrough case of the COVID-19 delta variant which spread through the downtown Roseburg office.

“Being tired is a pain in the ass,” said Swallow, who has been dealing with the effects of the delta variant for more than three weeks. “I’m used to working a long day and having energy when I get home. I’m a late night person. I definitely need more sleep than I usually do.

“Fatigue is a real thing.”

Swallow agreed to share his experience with The News-Review after 12 of the 30 people who work at the public defenders office tested positive for COVID-19. All 30 employees had long since completed their sequence of vaccinations against the virus.

“All but one of us had symptoms,” Swallow said in early August, when the public defenders office was added to the Oregon Health Authority’s Workplace Outbreak Report. “We mandated vaccines. We are a public entity dealing with the public and high risk members of the public.

“We allowed for medical and religious exceptions, and nobody took them.”

Of the positive cases in the office, nine attorneys who had been vaccinated contracted COVID-19, and all nine were sequenced to the B.1.1.7 delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

One week earlier, a similar outbreak was reported at the Douglas County Jail. The jail currently has 19 active COVID-19 positive cases including employees, inmates and family members.

Swallow recounted his experience in dealing with the delta variant as hitting him fast and hard.

“Our first person to get sick was (Aug. 4), but by (Aug. 5) it was all of our staff,” Swallow said three weeks ago. “I had tested negative but started feeling ill. By that Saturday, I had all the symptoms.

“When you get this thing, you’re just sleeping,” Swallow said, punctuated by a heavy guttural cough. “For the first 24 hours I had it, I slept for probably 21 hours. Nobody (from the public defenders office) ended up in the hospital, but oh man, it knocks you down.”

Due to the outbreak, the attorneys in the public defenders office and Douglas County District Attorney’s Office got creative. Ever since the outbreak at the public defenders office was reported, clients have been represented by their defense attorneys in court proceedings either via telephone or closed circuit video.

“The court was very flexible in short order to allow us to do remote appearances,” Swallow said.

Three weeks after getting hit with delta, Swallow said he’s still recovering. The cough remains, although not as pronounced. He has all the energy of a house cat lying in the sun on a window sill.

“I definitely don’t feel 100%,” Swallow said.

So why share his experience of his breakthrough case of COVID-19?

“I felt like I had an obligation to be candid about this,” Swallow said. “It’s important to share this.

“All of us were just relaxing like, ‘Oh yea, everything’s better!’ and this is where we landed.”

Donovan Brink can be reached at and 541-957-4219.

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Cops and Courts Reporter

Donovan Brink is the cops and courts reporter for The News-Review.

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(12) comments


Funny, but I just read where China had 124 cases of the Delta variant....huh? In a country that is about 10 times bigger than ours, what is going on? I know China is not always transparent, but it seems that they are dealing with this better than we are.


"China is not always transparent", China is never transparent.


Wretched722: ~4≠~10.

Yes: China is not transparent, *and* they are more successful than we are.


And this is the difference between an employer who cares about the employees and the public - mandating vaccines with appropriate exemptions kept these people from hospitalization and death . .. can the District Attorney's office say the same?


Unvaccinated, unmasked teacher infected more than half of students in class with Covid-19.

Tom Wingo

So 40% of those vaccinated in this very small sample size contracted COVID. How many of them ended up in the hospital? How many of them had severe symptoms? Did Eric think getting the vaccine was beneficial despite contracting COVID? In hindsight, does he think mandating vaccines in his office was the right thing to do? These are all questions that would have given the readers a much more well rounded perspective. Instead, I would think the take away of most readers of this article is that vaccines don't work. If the goal was click bait -- mission accomplished.


Florida COVID update: 901 added deaths, largest single-day increase in pandemic history.


If you read the article, it clearly states that none of the individuals at the Public Defenders office who tested positive were admitted to the hospital.


Maybe your reading between the lines, because I don't read anywhere in the article where it says that none of them were admitted to the hospital. Classic example of seeing , hearing and reading what they want and what is not actually factual!


Direct copy and paste from the above article:

When you get this thing, you’re just sleeping,” Swallow said, punctuated by a heavy guttural cough. “For the first 24 hours I had it, I slept for probably 21 hours. Nobody (from the public defenders office) ended up in the hospital, but oh man, it knocks you down.”

Difference between reading and comprehending and just glancing through.


What Imjustme wrote.

FedUp: yep, you just created a classic example. Well done.


Joe, you're a pip. [lol]

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