PORTLAND, Ore — There are 61 active COVID-19 workplace outbreaks in Oregon as of this week. That’s five fewer than the 66 active outbreaks reported last week by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA).
Nine deaths have been associated with workplace outbreaks in Oregon during the pandemic.
The largest active outbreak is at the Snake River Correctional Institution in Ontario. The outbreak was first identified on June 24 and the case count has continued to rise since then. There have been 436 coronavirus cases linked to the outbreak, with the most recent onset reported on Sept. 16.
Health officials track outbreaks of five or more employees at workplaces where there are at least 30 workers. An outbreak remains active if there has been a case within the past 28 days. The case count for each workplace includes everyone who is linked to the outbreak, whether they are workers or a close contact.
The five largest active outbreaks are unchanged from last week. They are at food processing facilities and correctional facilities. In addition to the Snake River Correctional Institution outbreak, 314 COVID-19 cases are connected to the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution in Umatilla County. Another 186 cases are linked to Lamb Weston in Hermiston, 110 cases are connected to the Two Rivers Correctional Institution in Umatilla and 72 cases have been tied to Shearer’s Foods in Hermiston.
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“The presence of correctional facilities and food packing and agricultural worksites on this list highlights the challenges of controlling COVID-19 in settings where people must work or live in proximity,” OHA says in the report. “People of color are overrepresented in agricultural and correctional settings, contributing to the higher rates of COVID-19 observed in these groups.”
Of the 2,214 total cases included in Oregon’s workplace outbreaks, 860 (39%) are in correctional facilities.
Six of the 10 largest active COVID-19 workplace outbreaks are associated with businesses in Eastern Oregon's Umatilla County, which is home to a population of just over 78,000.
The full workplace outbreak list was published in OHA's weekly report, which details the state’s response to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The data is current as of 11 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 20. The weekly report also lists 59 workplaces where COVID-19 outbreaks have been resolved.
The OHA weekly report also shows that from Sept. 13 through Sept. 20, OHA recorded 1,511 new cases of COVID-19 infection, which is up 17% from last week’s tally of 1,294. The positive test rate rose last week from 5.6% to 6.2%.