Clark County public health officials are urging nearly 300 people who visited a chiropractic office in Washington last week to quarantine immediately because they may have been exposed to COVID-19 by an infected worker.
The county took the unusual step of publicly announcing the case Wednesday in an effort to quickly reach visitors through media coverage. Officials expect it will take contact tracers several days to speak to everyone who visited the facility.
Mask use at the office had been “inconsistent” and public health officials are considering everyone who visited at risk of exposure “out of an abundance of caution,” spokeswoman Marissa Armstrong said.
“We wanted to make sure that those folks who were exposed and at risk of getting sick are quarantining right away,” Armstrong said.
The public alert from officials in Washington is significantly different than how officials typically operate in Oregon, where authorities rarely if ever announce incidents involving potential exposure. Officials in Clark County made a similar announcement in July when four employees and 14 customers who visited a bar became infected.
In the latest case, a worker who “spent a substantial amount of time with patients” at the chiropractic office tested positive for COVID-19 this week, Armstrong said. The facility is Chiro One Wellness Center Salmon Creek at 13800 N.E. 20th Ave., north of Vancouver.
Public health officials are asking anyone who visited the office Sept. 8-11 to seek testing and quarantine for 14 days from the date of the visit.
Federal guidance considers anyone who spent at least 15 minutes within six feet of an infected person as a close contact. But because of inconsistent mask use at the facility, Clark County health officials are considering everyone who visited a close contact, Armstrong said.
Among those exposed include 14 other employees at the facility. Patients who visited the office on other days, or visited other chiropractic locations, are not at risk and do not need to quarantine, officials said.
Clark County officials typically would issue a public notice about potential exposure only if they could not identify people who may have been in contact with an infected individual, Armstrong said. In this case, officials have contact information for everyone who visited but nonetheless decided to announce the threat because it will take several days to reach patients by phone.
“We don’t want those individuals out in public and carrying on with their lives” and potentially spreading the virus to others, Armstrong said.
Meanwhile, the Oregon Health Authority, the state’s public health agency, said it would be open to a similar type of notice for Oregonians if the same circumstances applied locally.
The Oregon Health Authority “would advise a local public health department to take any steps necessary to protect the health and safety of the public up to and including a mass notice, if other means would not be effective,” Dr. Melissa Sutton, medical director for respiratory viral pathogens, said in a statement.
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