Oregon health officials report COVID-19 outbreak at state hospital

The Oregon Health Authority reported a COVID-19 outbreak affecting 18 employees at Columbia Memorial Hospital in Astoria in its latest weekly surveillance summary published Jan. 26. 

The state health authority's investigation started Jan. 16, with the most recent onset Jan. 19, according to the report. The health agency conducts weekly reports on workplace outbreaks among workplaces with at least 30 employees. Those with at least five confirmed COVID-19 cases are included in the report. 

"As with most of our healthcare colleagues, CMH has had COVID-19 exposures due to the omicron variant," the hospital said in a statement to The Astorian, adding that the exposures originated outside the hospital. Columbia Memorial Hospital said every caregiver who tested positive or was exposed "is following strict employee health guidelines." 

The outbreak has not affected care services, though, "Staffing has been affected," the hospital said. 

"We do have a bigger mass of people that are out, but those positions are being filled, and nothing has been short-staffed," Nancee Long, the hospital's director of communications, told The Astorian. "And sometimes people are working more shifts than normal, and everybody's kind of watching out for each other." 

Columbia Memorial is a 25-bed critical access hospital. In its statement to The Astorian, the hospital cited a report from Oregon Health & Science University that estimates omicron will peak in the hospital's region in early February, warning that hospital beds will likely be challenging to find in the area during that time. 

"Please continue to practice safety, mask in public and curtail social activities to not overwhelm your local hospitals."


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