College-age cluster raises concerns for Lane County officials

A total of 401 cases have been tied to outbreaks at workplaces, care facilities and a college-age cluster.

Posted: Oct 13, 2020 6:53 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Lane County public health officials shared Tuesday that there has been a total of 56 COVID-19 outbreaks since the pandemic began at the end of February.

These outbreaks involve 401 cases, including those who are no longer infectious or have recovered.

Outbreaks include workplaces, long-term care facilities, and child care centers -- as well as those in the college-age cluster.

Spokesman Jason Davis said college-aged residents are in need of some extra reminders.

“We have had some difficulty,” Davis said. “A lot of that difficulty from what we’ve heard stems from the fear that some students have that they will get in trouble for testing positive for COVID or that they will get a friend in trouble by identifying them as an exposure. Additionally we have had some concerns over actually isolating in quarantine because if they do so people will see that that’s happening and they will be identifiable.”

Davis said that there is still a lot of work to do to get the message across to college-age residents, some of them students at the University of Oregon. UO cases make up more than 26.3% of the outbreaks. There’s been a total of 368 COVID-19 cases within the UO community since June 1.

“No one should be getting in trouble simply because of a diagnosis,” Davis said. “It’s really the behavior, I think, the university is looking at and certainly Lane County Public Health is looking at. Once you’re sick, our priority is making sure the case stops with you.”

There have been 17 deaths associated to outbreaks, making up the majority of the 22 deaths in the county so far. The average age of cases tied to outbreaks is now lower than before at 31. Residents shared their thoughts on this data.

“It’s unfortunate to see the numbers rising in Oregon, but there are a number of factors there with young people going back to school, people loosening up and getting cabin fever and going out and doing things they probably shouldnt be doing,” Eugene resident Jim Westcott said.

Westcott said that it is critical to protect not just yourself, but also those around you.

“If you’re around anyone, you should really be masked because you don't know which person is going to spread it,” Westcott said. “You could be asymptomatic and not know youre sick. The person you pass by could be sick and isn’t going to say anything.”

Health officials continue to urge the community to follow public health guidelines to isolate this virus and to prevent even more comment members from the danger it can bring.

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