Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



Crook County has faced small outbreaks in a variety of locations from workplaces to assisted living centers, schools

As it tracks and reports COVID cases, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has kept an ongoing outbreak report.

The document focuses on the emergence of multiple cases at assisted living facilities, workplaces and schools. The data are broken down by county, date of the first reported case and total number of cases.

Most Crook County outbreaks are already resolved, and the number of cases involved in the outbreaks are low compared to those in other communities. In fact, during the community's most recent spike, its worst since the pandemic began, workplace and long-term care facility outbreaks were not the primary cause of the surge.

"There is no connection," said Vicky Ryan, Crook County's emergency preparedness coordinator. "They added to it, however, we are seeing mostly social gatherings where whole family units are getting sick and testing positive."

When OHA released its weekly outbreak report prior to Memorial Day Weekend, Crook County had three active outbreaks. One of them was at Regency Prineville Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. Cases were first reported on April 21 and to date, there have been 14 cases during the outbreak and two deaths.

A cluster of cases in a long-term care facility is deemed an outbreak by OHA if there are three or more COVID cases at the location. It remains an active outbreak until 28 days after the final new case is reported. It is then categorized as a resolved outbreak.

Two outbreaks in Crook County long-term care facilities are now resolved. The first was reported the past August at Regency Village at Prineville and involved seven cases and no deaths. Another outbreak at Regency Prineville Rehabilitation and Nursing Center was first reported in mid-December. There were 58 cases during the outbreak and seven deaths.

To help limit outbreaks at the long-term care facilities, Crook County health officials prioritized vaccinating residents and staff early on, Ryan said. In addition, they worked closely with the facilities to ensure they had what they needed in the way of personal protective equipment and guidance interpretation.

"They have done all the hard work of keeping their residents safe by complying with the guidance," Ryan said.

Workplace outbreaks are determined in a similar fashion to long-term care facilities, except it takes five cases at a location for OHA to label it an outbreak. Two workplace outbreaks have occurred in Crook County, according to OHA data, both of which are still considered active.

An investigation into one outbreak at Endura Products, a large wood products facility in Prineville, began on May 10 and has had eight cases. The most recent onset of a case was May 20. OHA began investigating the second outbreak at Facebook Data Center on May 13. There have been 25 cases to date with the most recent case onset occurring May 17.

School outbreaks are more common in the OHA outbreak report, although it only takes one case among students or staff to constitute an outbreak. There are currently no active outbreaks among Crook County schools, although there are six resolved ones.

Crook County High School had the most recent outbreak, with eight students and three staff members. The most recent case onset was March 17. High Desert Christian Academy had a five-student outbreak, with the last case reported on Feb. 7. Crook County Middle School had an outbreak that involved seven students and one staff member, with the last case reported on Jan. 21. Earlier in January, a one-student outbreak was reported at Powell Butte Community Charter School, while another one occurred at Crooked River Elementary School that involved two students and six staff members. Lastly, an outbreak involving two staff members was reported at Steins Pillar Elementary School. The most recent onset of a case was Dec. 8.

When the school outbreaks occurred, county officials worked closely with the Crook County School District to keep spread of COVID as limited as possible.

"They have done all the hard work to keep our kids and school staff safe," Ryan said. "They are continuing to follow the school and state guidance."

Heading into June, Crook County's COVID case total is finally declining after a month-long surge. Ryan hopes to see the trend continue and is urging people to continue following state guidance.

"If we can all work together, we will get back to a lower level of risk and open up even more of our businesses," she said. "With summer rapidly approaching, we need to remember that our social gatherings need to be safe, and since we are only at around 45% vaccinated in our county, there are still many people who have not gotten their shot."

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