SALEM — Coronavirus outbreaks in Oregon continue to persist in the same large workplaces weeks after the virus first reached the employers, according to new data from the Oregon Health Authority.
Many of those employers are concentrated in the food processing industry. It can take weeks for the virus to fully circle through a workplace and for public health officials to identify all cases linked to it.
The Oregon Health Authority reported 28 different workplaces have active outbreaks of five or more COVID-19 cases within the past 28 days. The Oregon State Penitentiary has consistently reported the most coronavirus cases, with 182 disclosed in the report issued Wednesday, June 24.
Pacific Seafood in Newport remains the largest food processing outbreak in the state, more than two weeks after tests confirmed that the virus had infected many of its employees. The outbreak now totals 163 cases.
The Newport outbreak has touched many facets of life in the coastal town. Now, three restaurants in Newport — Local Ocean, Clearwater and McDonald’s — have all reported cases, as well.
Newport Mayor Dean Sawyer said in early June that Local Ocean and Clearwater decided to close their restaurants after the initial Pacific Seafood outbreak in hopes of mitigating the spread of coronavirus.
Janell Goplen, the owner of Clearwater, confirmed in an email at the beginning of June the restaurant chose to close.
“Several of our employees lived with or were relatives of Pacific Seafood employees,” Goplen wrote. “Upon learning that they all were being tested we decide to close preemptively to limit any exposure to our staff and guests. This is a very small town filled with large families and close communities.”
Duckwall Fruit in Hood River, which had six cases at the end of May, now has 63 total cases linked to its pear-packing facility.
Townsend Farms, which operates several sites in the Portland area, is still facing its second outbreak from late May. There are now 74 cases linked to its facilities in Troutdale and Cornelius.
The outbreaks at Townsend Farms are what led the state to begin disclosing the names of workplaces with COVID-19 outbreaks in May.
Multnomah County officials noted earlier this week that they are starting to see the tails of some workplace exposures.
“That spread has been going on slowly, and it just amplifies as cases add up over time,” said Communicable Disease Director Kim Toevs.
Bob’s Red Mill, a Milwaukie company that produces and distributes popular grain products nationwide, had an outbreak that started in late May and now totals 54 cases. The most recent onset of cases was June 16.
Another food processor, Teeny Foods in Gresham, is linked to the Portland area’s third largest workplace coronavirus outbreak, with 24 cases.
There are new outbreaks popping up across the state, as well. Most recently, a food products supplier in Umatilla County has led to an explosion of cases in the Eastern Oregon county. Lamb Weston, in Hermiston, has an outbreak of 37 coronavirus cases.
Since the start of the investigation into Lamb Weston on June 16, Umatilla County has recorded 153 new coronavirus cases — 44% of its 344 total cases.