Oregon Child Care Center Has at Least 20 COVID-19 Cases, Eight of Them Kids

Clackamas County Public Health would only say there are more than five cases and they involve both people at the facility and family members.

A teddy bear in the window of a Portland home in March 2020. (Rocky Burnside)

A child care center in Lake Oswego is the first in Oregon to experience a publicly reported outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, with eight children and 12 teachers testing positive.

KinderCare in the Lake Grove neighborhood of Lake Oswego told parents in a June 25 email of the outbreak. It appears to be among the first such clusters in the nation.

Clackamas County Public Health told WW on June 30 there are cases involving family members as well, but declined to say how large the outbreak is.

In the late afternoon Tuesday, after WW revealed the outbreak, the Oregon Health Authority pledged to report clusters of cases at child care centers in its weekly reports.

Schools across the country have largely been closed, so child care facilities are viewed as an indicator for whether schools can open safely. Few facilities have reported case clusters, leading to some optimism.

National Public Radio reported last week that New York City's school-run day cares and YMCA facilities nationwide have reported no cases of COVID-19. But two Denver-area child care facilities had outbreaks in March, for example.

KinderCare Education LLC, a for-profit company based in Portland, operates more than 1,200 child care centers in 41 states. The company declined to confirm the number of cases at the Lake Oswego center or whether students were involved but did say it closed the center for two weeks to address concerns there. The company also declined to say whether other locations had outbreaks.

Oregon Health Authority spokesman Jonathan Modie says officials are meeting today on the issue of child care facilities and what information can be released, but he did not have further details or comment. He did not have information about whether other day care facilities have seen outbreaks.

Clackamas County public health assistant director Julie Aalbers said it was up to the facility to report details. "That would be up to KinderCare to share or not share," she said.

KinderCare elected not to share.

"The health and safety of our children, families and staff is always our top priority," says Emily Snyder, associate communications manager for KinderCare. "In response to the COVID-19 crisis, we've developed enhanced health and safety measures in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a panel of medical experts to ensure our centers remain as clean and safe as possible.

"As soon as we learned of the positive diagnoses in Lake Grove, we partnered with the Clackamas County Health Department and closed the center for 14 days to allow for a professional deep cleaning, retraining on our protocols and retesting of our staff before we reopen. We're also taking the extra step of retraining all of our Oregon center staff to ensure we're delivering against the highest standards possible. We're looking forward to welcoming families back to our center soon."

This story has been updated.

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