Employee at Oregon State Hospital tests positive for coronavirus

Oregon State Hospital in Salem (Salem Reporter/file)

NOTE: Salem Reporter is providing free access to its content related to the coronavirus as a community service. Subscriptions help support this.

An employee at the Oregon State Hospital has tested positive for COVID-19, the second large state institution in Salem to report an infected staffer.

The Oregon Health Authority on Wednesday evening notified all state hospital employees.

“There are no confirmed patient cases and none out for testing,” the agency said in its notification.

Rebeka Gipson-King, a Health Authority spokesman, said the agency wouldn’t release any information about the employee, including whether the infected individual had any contact with patients. She said the employee did work inside the secure area of the hospital.

“Anyone who works inside the secure perimeter has the potential for patient contact,” she said by email.

She said all employees who had known contact with the infected employee have been notified. She said three employees have been directed to quarantine, a standard step now for those who have come in contact with someone with COVID-19.

The hospital employs 2,300 at its Salem and Junction City campuses, caring for a current patient population of 590.

The notification came hours after the Oregon Department of Corrections confirmed that an employee at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Gipson-King said that beginning Wednesday, “every single employee coming into the hospital, if they are going to be in a patient area, is going to be wearing a mask.”

The new procedure also applies the state hospital campus in Junction City.

She said the state hospital had already been monitoring every patient, taking temperatures twice a day and other watching for any symptoms.

She said both the Salem and Junction City facilities each have isolation units and stocks of personal protective equipment in case a patient tested positive for the novel coronavirus.