Oregon health officials have traced a small outbreak of COVID-19 to a Portland strip club.
Spyce Gentlemen's Club in Old Town has been linked to five cases of the virus. The first infection traced to the club was diagnosed on July 16, state records say. Health officials began investigating the outbreak on July 24.
Social media posts show Spyce reopened to patrons on June 19, then announced a "voluntary closure" July 15.
Spyce owner Matt Doss told WW by email that the club was adding new COVID safety precautions, but did not say what they were.
"In these very difficult times and with the ever-evolving environment downtown, we at Spyce take the safety and security of our employees and customers extremely seriously," Doss said. "We have chosen to cease operations until we feel that the time is right to reopen for a multitude of reasons."
Spyce is best known for its annual Strip Club Haunted House. On July 27, it announced a reopening kickoff party for July 31. "Spyce is celebrating our reopening with insane drink deals and the sexiest topless & nude dancers in Oregon," the announcement said. "Masks on, clothes off!!!"
Two days later, the club postponed the party but did not give a specific reason. "The safety of our staff and entertainers must always come first," it said on its Facebook page.
The outbreak at Spyce appears to be Oregon's first cluster of COVID-19 infections traced to a strip club. Strip clubs have previously been linked to outbreaks of the virus in Wisconsin and Michigan.
The Spyce cases were disclosed Aug. 4 in the state's weekly report of workplace COVID-19 outbreaks. The revelation comes amid renewed demand for Gov. Kate Brown to close bars. On Aug. 5, a group of 150 physicians who are also mothers criticized Brown for allowing bars to operate even as children could only attend school remotely. The next day, WW reported that federal health officials had advised Oregon since July 19 to close Portland-area bars until the spread of the virus decreases.
Spyce is among the smallest of 69 active workplace outbreaks in Oregon. It remains noteworthy as one of the few clusters in a business open to patrons. The largest outbreaks continue to be traced to prisons, food processing plants and shipping warehouses. The Hermiston frozen potato packer Lamb Weston has 167 cases; an Amazon warehouse in Troutdale now has 48.