More than 300 people may have been exposed to COVID-19 last week at a Salmon Creek chiropractic office, Clark County Public Health announced Wednesday.
An employee at Chiro One Wellness Center Salmon Creek, 13800 N.E. 20th Ave., worked while contagious with the virus and potentially exposed 300 patients who visited the office from Sept. 8 through 11.
Another 14 people who work at the chiropractic office were also potentially exposed to the virus, according to Public Health.
The announcement came as Public Health confirmed 23 new coronavirus cases Wednesday morning. The county currently has 137 active cases, and since March, has recorded 3,026 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 53 deaths connected to the virus.
Washington surpassed 2,000 COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday and has had more than 80,000 confirmed cases since January.
Clark County has a COVID-19 activity level of 69.4, which places it in the “moderate” range for school reopening based on the number of new cases per 100,000 population over a 14-day period. That’s up from the previous two weeks.
Face coverings are mandated in all indoor, public places in Washington, but Clark County Public Health Officer Dr. Alan Melnick said mask-wearing was “inconsistent” by clients and staff at the chiropractic office.
That has created further concern that this exposure could lead to an outbreak.
“We need to be vigilant,” Melnick said during a press briefing Wednesday. “We’re in the midst of a pandemic, and we need to follow the guidelines to protect the public.”
The physical location where the exposure happened still has Bridge Chiropractic as the name on the building. Bridge Chiropractic is a locally based chiropractic office, but an update on the company’s website says that it is now part of Chiro One Wellness Centers, a company based out of Oak Brook, Ill. Chiro One Wellness Centers operates chiropractic offices in the Northwest and Midwest.
Efforts to reach Chiro One Wellness Centers’ marketing and public relations department for comment Wednesday were unsuccessful.
Patients who visited the Salmon Creek wellness center from Sept. 8 to 11 are at risk of contracting COVID-19 and should quarantine for 14 days from their most recent visit there. Individuals in quarantine should stay home and avoid contact with anyone who isn’t a household member.
They should not visit any public places or go to work.
Patients who visited the Salmon Creek office on other days, or visited other Chiro One locations, were not exposed and do not need to quarantine.
Chiro One Wellness Centers provided public health officials with the names and contact information for those affected, according to a Public Health press release.
Public Health will notify those individuals of their potential exposure and provide additional information about quarantine. That process could take several days, however, so patients who were seen at the Salmon Creek wellness center on the specified dates should quarantine immediately and not wait for the notification.
Anyone who has questions prior to being contacted by Public Health can call 360-386-2140.
Public Health recommends that those affected should call a health care provider and request testing for COVID-19, even if they do not have symptoms. They should still quarantine for 14 days, regardless of the test result, according to Public Health.
Anyone who develops symptoms during the 14-day quarantine, even if they tested negative earlier, should be tested again for COVID-19.
COVID-19 symptoms can develop two to 14 days after exposure and may include cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills or repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell.
Public Health Institute, a California-based nonprofit that Clark County Public Health has contracted with for outbreak work, has brought on more workers to help investigate the exposure.
Clark County Public Health has tasked one group of workers with finding close contacts for Chiro One staff and another with finding close contacts for the center’s clients.
Public Health will still have staff dedicated to other cases.
“We still have the other cases and contact notification that need to be done. That’s not stopping because of this,” Melnick said.
There are 22 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Clark County, and nine people hospitalized while awaiting test results.
Melnick said Public Health has notified the state Department of Health and state Department of Labor & Industries about the outbreak. At this time, Melnick said he does not know if there will be regulatory consequences for the wellness center’s inconsistent mask-wearing.
Melnick did not say why mask-wearing was inconsistent at the chiropractic office, but he said that everyone needs to be wearing masks in public spaces and around non-household members.
He said face coverings have been politicized, even though science clearly indicates they are one of the best ways to prevent transmission of the virus right now.
“When we substitute politics for science, that’s a recipe for disaster,” Melnick said.