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Veterans Affairs center in White City suffers COVID-19 outbreak

Jackson County reported 13 new COVID-19 cases Friday and said the Veterans Affairs Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center and Clinics in White City is facing an outbreak.

Jackson County Public Health began investigating a possible workplace outbreak at the VA site on Sept. 23.

Currently, there are a total of 10 cases associated with the outbreak, with six of those cases among employees and four among their household contacts. The Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center and Clinics is working closing with Jackson County Public Health during the investigation, county officials said Friday.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said the White City facility has been following a number of safety precautions. Visitors are met at an entrance check point by a staff member who provides face masks for those who don’t have them, asks screening questions about any symptoms and does a temperature check.

Only caregivers can accompany veterans, and children under age 13 aren’t allowed on campus. Veterans are encouraged to call ahead because they may be able to get services by phone or video, the VA said.

The total number of reported COVID-19 cases in Jackson County so far has been 1,229. One previously reported case was not a case and has been removed from the total. The county has reported six total deaths tied to COVID-19.

County public health officials are urging people to continue wearing face coverings, wash their hands frequently, clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and avoid social gatherings with extended family members and friends.

Many residents have opened up their homes and are hosting people who evacuated or lost their homes to the Almeda and South Obenchain fires. People from mixed households should wear a mask while inside the home, in addition to following general safety guidelines. Those who develop COVID-19-like symptoms should seek testing, even if their symptoms are mild, county officials said.

With the flu season approaching, everyone six months of age and older should get a flu vaccine — especially people who are at high risk from complications from the flu or COVID-19, county officials said.

Statewide, Oregon reported 314 new COVID-19 cases and three additional deaths Friday, bringing the total number of reported cases to 34,163 and the total number of reported deaths to 563.

The new Oregon deaths occurred in Lane, Marion and Wasco counties among two men and one woman in their 80s with underlying conditions, the Oregon Health Authority said.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.

Jackson County Public Health officials are investigating a COVID-19 outbreak at{ }the Veterans Affairs Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center and Clinics in White City. SORCC file photo