A COVID-19 outbreak has been reported at CHI Mercy Medical Center, according to the Douglas County COVID-19 Response Team.
The Oregon Health Authority is expected to announce the outbreak Wednesday, the county said, which will be one of 110 reported workplace outbreaks statewide since the pandemic began.
Douglas County Public Health Officer Dr. Bob Dannenhofffer said the Douglas County COVID-19 Response Team and the Douglas Public Health Network have been working directly with Mercy and its employees since the first positive case result was returned.
Dannenhoffer said Douglas Public Health Network staff and Mercy officials are supporting the employees that are in isolation or quarantine.
“Douglas Public Health Network has been working closely with Mercy Medical Center providing vital epidemiology investigation and support for this workplace outbreak,” Dannenhoffer said. “We believe it is still safe to seek care at Mercy because they were prepared and they are supporting additional testing while also supporting their staff in quarantine. We are working together to mitigate the transmission to staff, patients as well as the larger community.”
The state reports workplace outbreaks of five or more cases for workplaces that have 30 or more employees.
Mercy officials reported that one employee has tested positive from an off duty exposure, not at the hospital. Six others are considered presumptive.
“Since the coronavirus was identified, our organization has been focused on ensuring the safety of our employees and our patients,” said the hospital’s President and CEO Kelly Morgan. “The employee who tested positive was exposed on their time off, and no patients were exposed due to our PPE protocols. Staff who have tested positive are now in quarantine for two weeks and we will continue to work closely with Douglas Public Health Network as we move forward.
“I personally want to reassure our community that Mercy remains a safe place to receive health care and we will continue our commitment to safety. From screening everyone who comes (into the) facility, limiting visitors, masking both patients, visitors and staff and following the CDC guidelines, we are dedicated to ensuring a safe and healing environment,” Morgan said.
Douglas County added six new cases Tuesday, two positive tests and four presumptive cases.
There are now 13 presumptive cases and 24 people in isolation in the county. The total number of cases since the pandemic started is now 140.
One person has been hospitalized with a positive COVID-19 test, but the DCCRT said that person is from a different state so it is not included in the county’s total.
Dannenhoffer said on Facebook video posted Tuesday night that people in the county are doing a good job of keeping the number of cases down, but a lot of the recent cases have come from out of state.
“When we look at cases, we see two things that play again and again and again,” Dannenhoffer said. “The first is out of state travel.”
He said the second thing is family gatherings or reunions, parties and dinners, which can spread the virus quickly if someone is infected.
He said a lot of recent infections have been traced to other states. In fact, they have been traced back to 10 different states.
The OHA reported 342 new cases in Oregon with five new deaths — all five over 87 years old — bringing the total number of deaths statewide to 333. The state has reported 19,699 total cases of COVID-19.