Clark County public health officials are urging about 300 people who visited a chiropractic office in Washington last week who were immediately exposed to COVID-19 by a seminar.
The county took the unusual step of announcing the matter publicly on Wednesday in an effort to reach visitors quickly through media coverage. Officials hope it will take contact trainers for several days to talk to everyone who visits the facility.
The use of masks in the office had become “inconsistent” and public health officials are considering everyone who visits the risk “out of caution,” Marissa Armstrong said.
“We wanted to make sure that people who were sick and at risk of getting sick are getting away,” Armstrong said.
The public’s warning differs greatly from officials in Washington about how officers generally operate in Oregon, where officials rarely announce potentially risky incidents. Clark County officials made a similar announcement in July when four employees and 14 visiting customers were infected.
In the latest case, a worker who “spends enough time with patients” at the chiropractic office tested positive for COVID-19 this week, Armstrong said. The Chero Forest Wellness Center is Salmon Creek at 13800 NE 20 Ave north of Vancouver.
Public health officials are asking anyone who visited the office Septen 8-11 for 14 days of testing and quarantine from the date of the visit.
Federal guidance considers anyone who spends at least 15 minutes within six feet of an infected person. But because of inconsistent mask use at the facility, Clark County health officials are considering all who visited a close contact, Armstrong said.
Those exposed include 14 other employees at the facility. Officials said that patients going to office or visiting other chiropractic locations on other days are not at risk and do not need to move out.
Armstrong said Clark County officials typically issue public notices about the potential risk if they cannot identify people who were in contact with an infected person. In this case, the authorities have contact information for everyone, but still decided to declare the threat because it would take several days to reach patients by phone.
“We don’t want those individuals in public and are advancing their lives and possibly passing the virus on to others,” Armstrong said.
Meanwhile, the Oregon Health Authority, which is the state’s public health agency, said it would be a similar type of notice for Oregonians if similar circumstances were applied at the local level.
The Oregon Health Authority “will advise a local public health department to take any necessary steps to protect public information and health safety and include a collective notice if other means are not effective,” Dr. Melissa Sutton, medical director for respiratory viral pathogens, said in a statement.
– Brad Schmidt; [email protected]; 503-294-7628; @_brad_schmidt