By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
As Oregon continues setting single-day records for COVID cases, hundreds of people rallied locally and across the state saying they won’t comply with the governor’s new rules aimed at reducing the virus’s spread.
At the same time, at least two local retirement facilities are reporting new cases of coronavirus among their staff and residents.
A woman whose mother lives at Touchmark contacted Central Oregon Daily News to say she was angered by weekend demonstrations and the lack of mask-wearing in public.
“My mother, living at Touchmark and all other residents there are now at risk because of … herd stupidity and selfishness,” she wrote.
Today, we got confirmation that five employees of Touchmark in Bend tested positive for COVID 19 so far this month, forcing this and other assisted living and nursing facilities to stop allowing family members to visit their loved ones.
“It’s not something where we are hating on anybody or anti-science or anti-saving lives,” said Tommy Szymanski, the protest organizer. “We are anti-our freedoms being taken away from us systematically.”
Touchmark executive director Scott Neil says mask-wearing is proven effective at limiting the spread of COVID. He asks the community, at large, to wear masks when outside their homes.
Neil says the 200 Touchmark staff members who come and go from the facility each day venture out into the larger community where they are probably being exposed to COVID by those who don’t wear masks or practice social distancing.
Redmond Fire medics responded six times Sunday to Brookdale retirement and assisted living community in Redmond. The chief tells us while it isn’t unusual to respond multiple times in a day to a senior facility, six responses is higher than normal.
Today, Brookdale management confirmed more than one member there has tested positive for COVID 19.
“We are working with both those facilities for COVID cases,” said Morgan Emerson, Deschutes County Emergency Preparedness Coordinator. “When we learn of a COVID case in a long-term care facility, we work with them to make sure all residents and staff are tested and continue to be tested every week until there are two weeks in a row with no new positive tests.”
Since the pandemic began, there have been 1,955 confirmed cases of COVID 19 in Deschutes County.