Major Local COVID-19 Outbreak; New COVID Numbers; Employment Woes For Florence

Major Local COVID-19 Outbreak

A severe outbreak in an assisted care facility in Florence has been discovered.  According to Jason Davis at Lane County Public Health, Spruce Point assisted Living and Memory care has had 19 residents and 6 staff members test positive for COVID-19.  Davis says the numbers are being confirmed and did not say whether there would be more cases spring up from this outbreak.  Davis says this is the only type of outbreak that they are seeing in Lane County at this point.  He says the lack of vaccinations among facilities contributes to these outbreaks.

“This really points to sort of a larger phenomenon that we’ve seen across the county with long-term care workers not being vaccinated and in turn seeing outbreaks in those facilities.”

The outbreak has yet to hit the county’s website for reporting numbers and davis says it will likely be several days before they do.  He says this is a grim reminder of the importance of getting vaccinated.

“Definitely an unfortunate situation there for Spruce Point Memory Care as those folks are some of our most vulnerable community members and  rely on the rest of us getting our immunizations to protect them.”

Davis says there is a likelihood that some individuals from this outbreak could end up being hospitalized, but there is no certainty of that at this point.  Coast Radio News reached out to Spruce point for comment, but there was no one available at the time.

New COVID Numbers

There were new numbers of COVID-19 for Lane County Area yesterday in their daily report.  2 new cases were listed for the 97439 zip code, but are not believed to be part of the Spruce Point outbreak.  Cases of COVID-19 could rise separate from the outbreak reported as community members may have come into contact with staff at the facility.  Overall Lane County reported 28 new cases yesterday.  Daily cases continue to rise across the state.  there were 322 cases total yesterday and there were 15 more hospitalizations reported bringing that total to 137.  The largest concentration of new cases are coming from counties with a 70% or better vaccination rate with Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington Counties being hit the hardest.  Some good news is that the daily vaccination rate has jumped back above the 5,000 mark.

Employment Woes For Florence

Unemployment is down, tourism is booming, and Florence businesses are trying to keep up. Restaurants, retail shops, grocery and convenient stores tell Coast Radio they are having trouble hiring workers and meeting demand. Across the state, unemployment numbers are dropping: Oregon businesses added 7500 non-farm jobs in June and the unemployment rate has dropped to 5.6 percent, according to numbers from the Oregon Employment Department. Yet, as tourism picks up speed and the customer base increases, businesses around Florence are struggling to fill open positions. With minimum wage up and tips to boot, it’s been frustrating for businesses that are struggling to hire, and newly hired employees are often not as reliable as they were before the pandemic, Bridgewater Restaurant manager Kim Beckner says.

“A lot of people left during COVID just because we couldn’t give them hours or because we had to close for a month here, two months there. So, they had to find work somewhere else, and a lot of people other than that just didn’t want to come back to work.

This is a problem that restaurants did not have before the pandemic, says Beckner. She’s grateful to those employees who have stuck with them through the pandemic: They’re good workers, she says.

“We had a full staff before–about 45 employees and no turnover ever. I mean maybe one here or there but nothing big, and now we can’t get anyone new. We’re just keeping our original crew that we had, and they’ve been with us since the beginning.”

Oregon has added back 64 percent of jobs lost in spring 2021 compared to 70 percent nationwide. While that leaves a big gap to get back to pre-pandemic levels, hiring is happening quickly in 2021, according to Gail Krumenauer, an  economist with the Oregon Employment Department. In Florence, however, there doesn’t seem to be enough eligible workers to keep up with demand.