By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Linfield pauses as outbreak grows

Yamhill County reported three new deaths from COVID-19 on Monday, while Linfield University paused in-person classes on campus Monday and today because of a widening outbreak there.

The county reported 39 new cases from Saturday to Monday, bringing the county count to 3,426 cases to date, and 56 deaths.

McMinnville continues to experience the largest number of new cases in the county.

Two deaths were reported among people in their 60s, while one person was 80 or older. The News-Register does not yet have additional information. The Oregon Health Authority announced last week it would stop reporting data on individual deaths. Governor Kate Brown later ordered it to resume the reports once a week.

The News-Register has asked Yamhill County to continue reporting on local deaths — information including each person’s gender, date of positive test, date and location of death — but has not received an answer.

Nine students in Hewitt Hall at Linfield’s campus have contracted COVID-19 as of Saturday. In response, the school closed all in-person classes and activities for the remainder of the weekend, Monday and Tuesday, while it tests the rest of the students in the residence hall, at the request of the county Public Health Department.

“The root cause seems to be students who have been both expanding their social circles/contacts and not wearing masks,” the college told staff.

Campus officials are performing contract tracing as well as testing to determine the scope of the outbreak, Provost Susan Agre-Kippenhan told staff, and are working with the state epidemiologist, as well as the county.

President Miles Davis said in a message released Friday that students from two different residence halls have tested positive, and urged employees to work remotely Monday and Tuesday of this week.

“Starting immediately and continuing until at least Wednesday, students are reminded not to remove masks around anybody other than roommate(s) and to avoid visiting any residence hall or off-campus housing in which they don’t live,” Davis said. “Any student who willfully violates these or other safety protocols will not be allowed to continue residing on campus or attending in-person courses during the spring semester.”

Davis did add a piece of good news.

“All 47 students included in the first batch of Hewitt Hall tests came back negative. Students living in the hall are still being asked to quarantine in place until further notice, but the lack of additional positive tests is a good sign.”

Davis said they will continuing trying to fulfill the Linfield mission while protecting everyone in the community.

“This is an unprecedented time in our history, and I’m sorry for the difficulty that continues to cause for everyone,” he said.

Associate Vice President Scott Nelson noted COVID cases statewide are falling and remain extremely low at Linfield.

“A few cases here and there are exactly what we expected going into this semester, and I would not be surprised if there end up being more situations like this,” he told the News-Register. “Regardless of the numbers, we’re going to take precautions to protect students, faculty and staff members. That’s our first priority.”

The state’s weekly report for January 18-24 noted a 48% decrease in new cases. However, health officials are warning the new UK variant found in at least three Oregonians is significantly more transmissible, and could lead to another surge in cases.

More information is available on the college’s COVID-19 webpage,

George Fox University, which updates its page on COVID-19 cases once a week, on Thursdays, reported three new cases last week: One on-campus student and two off-campus students.

Yamhill County began vaccinating teachers and school staff, including bus drivers, last week, as well as childcare providers. But staff of colleges and universities are not included.

People 80 and older become eligible for vaccines starting Sunday, but it is unclear when vaccine will be available for that demographic. Yamhill County continues to ask for larger allotments than it has been receiving, to speed up the process.

As of Sunday, the OHA reported, the county had vaccinated 7,057 people.

The state is still reporting outbreaks in local  long-term care facilities:

n Parkland Village has had 24 cases and one death since beginning on Nov. 17;

n Friendsview has had 14 cases since beginning on Nov. 27;

n Brookdale Hillside Skilled Nursing Unit has had six cases since beginning on Dec. 15;

n Maple Valley Memory Care has had 28 cases and one death since beginning on Dec. 23;

n Sheridan Care Center has had 27 cases and two deaths since beginning on Dec. 28;

n Pacifica Senior Living has had 23 cases and three deaths since beginning on Jan. 2;

n Life Care Center of McMinnville has had 14 cases since beginning on Jan. 14.

Cases include those among both patients and staff, as well as other close contacts.

Also, the virus continues to spread at the Sheridan prison, where 72 cases have been reported since Oct. 19, with the most recent Jan. 14.

Others reported by the state include A-dec, Inc. in Newberg, which has seen 15 cases since Nov. 8, with the most recent on Jan. 8, and the Delphian School near Sheridan, which has seen one case, that of a student reported Jan. 6.


Web Design and Web Development by Buildable