Person who went to work sick likely caused Oregon COVID-19 outbreaks that killed 7, officials say
DOUGLAS COUNTY, Ore. - A person who went to work sick likely caused two separate COVID-19 outbreaks in Oregon, resulting in seven deaths and forcing more than 300 people into quarantine, officials said.
Douglas County officials said last week that a person knowingly went to work while they were sick and later tested positive for the virus. Two recent outbreaks in the county were traced back to that individual.
"One of those outbreaks has resulted in seven deaths, and the other recent outbreak has placed over 300 people/families in quarantine," a Dec. 17 statement from Douglas County read. "We can't even imagine the tremendous remorse these people are feeling right now, and we sympathize with them."
The first outbreak resulted in nearly 20% of the county’s total COVID fatalities since the pandemic began, according to the Oregonian.
A health worker with Alaska Airlines processes a COVID-19 rapid test at Portland International Airport on Nov. 25, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)
Local officials did not disclose the name of the workplace where the outbreak began or the name of the individual, but called the decision a "super spreader action."
"This is the one of the most concerning issues we are facing right now. The top of the list for super spreader actions are people who are unwittingly and unconsciously choosing to go to work when they are sick," the statement adds.
Since the onset of the outbreak, many weddings, funerals, church services and other large gatherings have been identified as "superspreader events," in which the presence of one single COVID-19 infection can spur a large local outbreak.
RELATED: COVID-19 'superspreaders': Experts say 1 person can transmit virus at gatherings, with tragic consequences
Douglas County officials also urged people to stay home if they are experiencing symptoms, and follow public health measures intended to limit the spread of the virus.
"Our updates are intended to encourage our residents to do the right thing, and help us protect all of our residents," the county said. "That is why we will continue to encourage you to protect yourself and others from contracting and spreading COVID, by staying home if you are sick and by following the guidelines listed in our updates. Please help us all stay safe."
To date, Oregon has reported nearly 107,000 confirmed cases and more than 1,400 virus deaths.
This story was reported from Cincinnati.