MCHD and SRCI Report on Increasing COVID-19 Cases

A large number of COVID-19 positive cases have been reported by the Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) and Oregon Health Authority (OHA) in the last week. As of Monday, July 13, 2020, OHA indicates that a total of 102 people tested positive for COVID-19 in connection to the outbreak at Snake River Correctional Institution (SRCI). The case count includes all Oregon residents linked to the outbreak, including Adults In Custody (AIC), employees, household members, and other close contacts to an employee. The case count does not include any Idaho residents who may be associated with the outbreak, as laboratories report positive tests results to the state in which an individual resides. OHA is working closely with Idaho to coordinate contact tracing across state lines. For data on all confirmed cases at SRCI, visit the DOC COVID-19 Tracking Tool at oregon.gov/doc/covid19/Pages/covid19-tracking.aspx.

SRCI is Oregon’s largest prison with 2,899 medium-security beds and 167 minimum-security beds. All AICs who test positive or are awaiting test results, will be housed in medical services rooms or Special Housing Units (which have been repurposed for medial isolation) and are separate from the general population units at the institution. All DOC employees entering the institution will have their temperature taken and answer questions about COVID-19 symptoms.

Malheur County has 402 total COVID-19 Positive Cases. Only 65 are out of isolation. The positive rate of testing overall is at a high of 15.6%. On July 7, Oregon reported a 4.0% positive rate. It is important to note that even without counting the SRCI cases, Malheur County is experiencing a tremendous surge in community-spread cases. Ada, Canyon and Payette Counties in Idaho have a total of 6,440 cases reported within approximately 100 miles east of Malheur County. As a border community with many people travelling between states frequently, it is essential that we proactively reduce the spread by following public health guidance, including avoiding large gatherings, keeping physical distance from all people you don’t live with, wearing face coverings, and staying home with symptoms or while in quarantine or isolation.

Many SRCI employees are residents of Idaho and their COVID-19 test results are reported to Idaho. SRCI internally tracks total staff who are affected, regardless of residence, but won’t be reported or monitored by MCHD. MCHD and OHA coordinate closely with Idaho for contact tracing and outbreak investigation. For Idaho residents with COVID-19 questions, please reach out to our partner at Southwest District Health (SWDH). Questions may be directed to the SWDH COVID-19 call center Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at 208-455-5411. Please refer to the SWDH Website at phd3.idaho.gov for the latest local numbers and data and the Idaho COVID-19 Website at coronavirus.idaho.gov for statewide information.

It is essential that all confirmed COVID-19 cases and close contacts answer the call from their public health department and follow the instructions for isolation and quarantine. If you have a confirmed positive COVID-19 test, a case investigator will call and encourage you to self-isolate, even if you don’t have symptoms or feel sick. Self-isolation means staying away from everyone, including the people you live with and family members; not sharing utensils or bathrooms with others; only leaving home to seek medical treatment. If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, a contact tracer will ask you to quarantine for 14 days after last close contact with the case or the date of the positive test. Quarantine means you stay home and stay at least 6 feet away from everyone you live with. During your quarantine, contact tracers will call or text you daily to see how you are feeling; encourage you to get tested for COVID-19 if you have symptoms; and connect you with resources if needed.

Typically, a person with a confirmed COVID-19 case must isolate at home for at least 10 days after your symptoms began and at least 72 hours after your fever is gone (without the use of fever-reducing medication) and your symptoms improve. SRCI is requiring all COVID-19 positive Staff to isolate at home for 14 days after symptom onset or positive test. Regardless of which state a person lives in, they should complete isolation or quarantine periods with monitoring by public health.

A person can not return to work during the isolation or quarantine period with a negative test result because the incubation period of the virus is up to 14 days and a negative test does not mean that the person isn’t infected and won’t test positive later. A doctor’s note is not required by the Oregon Investigative Guidelines to return to work if the isolation and quarantine time is complete. Public Health can provide cases and contacts with letters verifying their isolation or quarantine is complete to give to their employers.

It is the responsibility of the whole community to protect each other from the coronavirus. Please do your part to reduce the spread to those who are essential workers and those who are most vulnerable. Wash your hands. Wear a face covering. Watch your distance.

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