Coos Health and Wellness

Coos Health and Wellness building

NORTH BEND — Coos Health & Wellness, the agency handling the county's public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic, announced Thursday that two of its own staff members have contracted the virus.

One of the individuals has tested positive, and the other is a presumptive case, meaning they've been in close contact with a known positive case and are displaying COVID-19 symptoms, according to Assistant Director Eric Gleason.

Gleason said the agency has no reason to suspect that the individuals came into contact with any CHW clients, since the department is currently seeing fewer clients and the two individuals don't frequently interact with them. Contact tracers are continuing to investigate if other staff members are impacted.

The cases are examples of why it's important to watch out for symptoms, Gleason said. The department found that only 36% of people who've tested positive in the county experienced a fever — meaning most people only had headaches or a loss of taste to warn them they were carrying the virus.

"You can't catch everybody, even with very thorough screenings," Gleason said, noting that CHW staff members had their temperatures checked each day before entering the facility.

Gleason said the department was reporting the cases to be transparent, not because it counts as an "outbreak" under the state's definition. The department doesn't plan on making changes to its procedures, but will be shorter-staffed while the employees are out.

"It's not just, 'well, I don't have a fever,'" Gleason said of the virus. "If you have a headache, stay home. Don't go to work."

The county currently has 29 active cases of the virus, including two hospitalizations, according to CHW data.

Reporter Zack Demars can be reached at worldnews3@countrymedia.net.

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