PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Multnomah County said Wednesday that it hopes to begin reopening in about two weeks, but a mysterious coronavirus outbreak could hinder those plans.
The Oregon Health Authority said Wednesday afternoon that it is working with county health authorities to investigate “an increase in COVID-19 cases tied to an outbreak at specific locations of a business that operates in the Tri-county region and the Willamette Valley.”
Pressed for specifics and for the name of the involved business, the health authority said it is keeping that company’s identity secret – but did not say why, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
“At this time, there is no indication that the outbreak at these locations poses any significant risk to surrounding communities,” the health authority said.
Multnomah County had an unusual 41-case spike in new coronavirus cases Wednesday. It’s not clear whether those new cases are connected to the workplace outbreak the health authority cited. The county said Wednesday that it hopes to reopen June 12.
Clark County’s plans to begin reopening are on hold after a major outbreak last week at a Vancouver, Washington, frozen fruit processing company. That incident has infected at least 69 of the facility’s 150 employees and at least 15 close contacts of those workers.
Oregon health officials have said little about prior workplace outbreaks, but there have been at least two – one at a frozen fruit and vegetable processor in Albany and another at a fish processing facility in Astoria.
Oregon’s death toll from COVID-19 remains at 148 while the number of cases in the state topped 4,000 Wednesday for a new total of 4,038. The virus causes mild to moderate symptoms in most patients, and the vast majority recover. But it is highly contagious and can cause severe illness and death in some patients, particularly the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.