Unvaccinated employee sparked COVID-19 outbreak at Oregon assisted living facility: officials

An unvaccinated worker at an assisted living facility in Oregon prompted a COVID-19 outbreak that infected 64 people and killed five, the Register-Guard reported.

The outbreak at Gateway Living, which has 105 employees and 101 residents, began July 5 with an unvaccinated employee who reported to work while infectious, according to the Register-Guard. By July 30, there were deaths from the outbreak, most of which were recorded on Aug. 3, Aug. 12, Aug. 19 and Aug. 25, the local newspaper reported.

Staff at the assisted living facility is 63 percent fully vaccinated, and residents are 82 percent fully vaccinated, according to the newspaper. 

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Gateway Living has seen about 60 percent of breakthrough cases during the current surge, the Register-Guard noted. Seven people who were infected by the outbreak were hospitalized.

Lane County, where Gateway Living is located, was hit with a major surge in cases in August. In the past two weeks, the county has record 2,920 cases of COVID-19, according to the Register-Guard.

The state of Oregon is currently combatting a a significant spike in cases, as well. COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased 990 percent in the state since early July, The Associated Press reported. A number of hospitals have suspended elective surgeries, and some patients are staying in hallways rather than rooms.

More than 90 percent of Oregon's ICU and hospital beds are full, according to the AP. Health officials say that the vast majority of hospitalized patients are unvaccinated.

The news follows Oregon Gov. Kate Brown's (D) announcement earlier this week that the state will reimplement an outdoor mask mandate regardless of vaccination status in an effort to combat rising cases.