WALLOWA COUNTY — The Oregon Health Authority on Wednesday, Sept. 16, reported a cluster of six new cases of COVID-19 in Wallowa County.
Brooke Pace, communications and public relations for Wallowa Memorial Hospital, said she was not allowed to discuss the outbreak and referred all questions to the OHA, since it serves as the public health department for the county. Wallowa County is the only county in the state without its own health department.
Philip Schmidt, a public information officer with the OHA, said Friday the outbreak was “all part of a single household cluster.”
He declined to say where in the county the household was or give any demographic information on the household.
Schmidt said the OHA responded with a case investigation. That involves making sure the household can self-isolate, has the medical support it needs and anyone household members may have come into contact with were notified and asked to self-isolate.
“We have not identified any risk to the community and we don’t anticipate any change in school status in Wallowa County,” he said.
Erika Pinkerton, superintendent the Enterprise School District, said in an email Thursday there are no students at the Enterprise schools who are known to have come down with coronavirus. Lance Homan, superintendent of Joseph Charter School said no Joseph students were known to have come down with coronavirus.
Tamera Jones, superintendent of the Wallowa School District, issued a statement Wednesday the same was true for Wallowa students.
“Since Wallowa County schools reopened under the small-county exception, the districts would make any decision to transition to comprehensive distance learning based not on the county case rate (which will be much higher this week), but instead on an assessment of the spread within schools and the broader community,” the statement read in part. “OHA’s conclusion is that there is no indication of either at this time and thus a public health recommendation to shift to comprehensive distance learning is not warranted based on the information we have at this time.”
The outbreak puts Wallowa County’s total since the beginning of the pandemic at 28 total cases, one of which resulted in a death.
Union County’s total remained at 435 on Friday, according to the Center for Human Development, the La-Grande based nonprofit that serves as the county’s public health department. The two latest cases came Wednesday.