Clark County Public Health officials are urging nearly 300 people who visited a chiropractic office in Washington last week to be quarantined immediately because they may have been exposed to COVID-19 by an infected worker.
The county took the unusual step of announcing the case publicly on Wednesday to reach visitors quickly through media coverage. Officials expect it will take several days to speak to anyone who has visited the facility.
The use of masks in the office has been “inconsistent”
“We wanted to make sure that people who were exposed and at risk of getting sick were immediately quarantined,” Armstrong said.
The public signal from officials in Washington is significantly different from the way officials typically work in Oregon, where authorities rarely, if ever, report incidents involving potential exposure. Clark County officials made a similar announcement in July when four employees and 14 customers who visited the bar became infected.
In the latter case, a worker who “spent significant time with patients” in the chiropractic office tested positive for COVID-19 this week, Armstrong said. The facility is the Chiro One Wellness Center Salmon Creek at 13800 NE 20th Ave., north of Vancouver.
Public health officials are asking anyone who visited the office on September 8-11 to seek tests and quarantine for 14 days from the date of the visit.
The federal leadership considers anyone who has spent at least 15 minutes within six feet of an infected person to be a close contact. But because of the inconsistent use of masks at the facility, Clark County health officials are considering anyone who has made close contact, Armstrong said.
Among those on display are 14 other employees at the facility. Patients who have visited the office on other days or visited other chiropractic sites are not at risk and do not need to be quarantined, officials said.
Clark County officials would normally issue a public announcement of a potential exposure only if they could not identify people who may have been in contact with an infected person, Armstrong said. In this case, the staff has contact information for everyone who has visited, but still decided to announce the threat, as it will take several days to reach patients by phone.
“We don’t want these people to go out in public and go on with their lives,” and potentially spread the virus to other people, Armstrong said.
Meanwhile, the Oregon Health Service, the state’s public health agency, said it would be open to similar types of notices for Oregons if the same circumstances apply locally.
The Oregon Health Authority “would advise the local public health department to take all necessary steps to protect public health and safety by and including mass notice if other means would not be effective,” said Dr. Melissa Sutton, director of respiratory medicine. viral pathogens, the statement said.
– Brad Schmid; firstname.lastname@example.org; 503-294-7628; @_brad_schmidt