Thursday, April 2
COVID-19 Testing Update
Last week, we learned of a case of COVID-19 at an OYA facility. The case was with someone who worked at our Tillamook site who reported they had tested positive.
Youth who were in contact with that person are in quarantine and none have shown symptoms of COVID-19.
Parents of the affected youth have been notified.
OYA does not have any confirmed cases of COVID-19 among youth.
Communications on COVID Testing
We are changing the way we share information on testing for COVID-19. When staff report to us they are getting tested, or when we know a youth is getting tested, we will continue making sure that those at their site who may be affected are aware of what’s going on. But we won’t post here unless we have a report of a positive test.
It’s difficult to report exact numbers of who is getting tested among our staff, because we’re relying on self-reporting and we may not have all the information. Plus, we want to do all that we can to protect the privacy of our staff and our youth, particularly if they or their families are going through a difficult time regarding health decisions.
Take Care of Your Mental Health
Fear and anxiety are normal reactions to what has become a very abnormal situation. We are all better at managing stress when we stay connected with our friends and people we love, take care of our physical wellbeing (eat well, exercise, get plenty of rest), and limit how much news coverage of the virus we consume.
It’s understandable if you are noticing heightened levels of stress in your life right now. Watch out for these common signs of distress:
- Feelings of numbness
- Disbelief, anxiety, or fear
- Changes in appetite
- Energy and activity levels
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty sleeping or nightmares and upsetting thoughts or images
- Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems and skin rashes
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Anger or short temper
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs
We encourage you to seek help if needed. If stress affects your daily life for several days or weeks, connect by phone or online to a clergy member, counselor, or health care provider.
You can also contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helpline at 1-800-985-5990.
State employees can call counselors 24/7 via the Employee Assistance Program. Initial sessions are free. Call them at 503-639-3009 (Portland), 503-588-0777 (Salem), or 800-433-2320 (toll free).
Friday, March 27
Amazon Wish List for MacLaren
We have added a second Amazon wish list, this one for the youth at MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility in Woodburn.
This is a way for you to help support our youth during this tough time by donating items to help them stay engaged and occupied. Items include art supplies, games, and movies.
Make sure to read the rules at the top before you order: https://bit.ly/MacLarenYCF.
Thursday, March 26
Amazon Wish List for Rogue Valley
If you’re wondering about ways to support our youth during this time, we have set up an Amazon wish list for Rogue Valley Youth Correctional Facility in Grants Pass.
The list is full of items to help keep them engaged and occupied — they really need it right now because they can’t go to school, volunteers can’t come in to run all the same programs, and they can’t have in-person visits.
Consider purchasing something, if you want to help. Make sure to read the rules at the top first: https://bit.ly/RogueValleyYCF.
Wednesday, March 25
COVID-19 Tests Among Youth and Staff
(UPDATE April 2: All the youth and staff listed below have tested negative.)
At this time, we have no known cases of COVID-19 among OYA youth or staff.
We do have several known instances of testing for COVID-19:
- Two youth at a contracted residential program in the community are being tested this week. This is at a different program from the one we mentioned previously. One youth’s test already came back negative, and we’re still waiting for the result of the other test. Both youth have been in medical isolation since Monday and will remain there until health officials tell us this is no longer necessary.
- Three OYA facility staff are currently being tested. The staff are self-quarantined at home for now and will be keeping us updated as they hear test results. We are working to determine whom these staff may have been in contact with and whether any youth would need to be quarantined.
Home Visits and Respite Care Suspended for Community Youth
Today, OYA suspended home visits for youth who are at community residential programs.
Additionally, OYA foster homes and contracted proctor care homes may not do respite care at this time. Respite care is when youth in foster or proctor care temporarily go to a different home in order to give their regular care providers a break.
Both decisions were in response to this week’s executive order from the governor directing everyone to minimize travel, as a way to help contain and reduce the spread of COVID-19.
These were tough decisions for us, because we know how important family visits are for youths’ well-being and rehabilitation. We also know how important respite care can be for foster and proctor families.
We are encouraging residential programs to allow youth more phone calls and video visits when possible, and our staff are continuing to support foster and proctor families through this time.
Update on School Closures
Currently, the districts running the schools inside OYA facilities have closed those schools until April 1. We’ve been receiving questions about whether the closures will be extended through the end of April.
OYA leaders have been consulting daily with Oregon Department of Education, which oversees the facility education program, to hear their guidance and interpretation of the governor’s executive order around school closures. Those discussions are continuing this week and we hope to have more guidance to share soon.
Education is an important part of our youths’ rehabilitation, so we will keep working closely with our education partners to see how programs will be provided to our youth.
MacLaren Accepts Youth Trust Account Money By Mail Only
Due to current facility access restrictions, MacLaren is currently only accepting money for youth trust accounts in the mail. Families will be able to leave money at the gatehouse after visitation is reinstated.
Families should send money in the form of a check. We do not recommend mailing cash. To help make sure money gets to the youth, please put their full legal name and living unit on the envelope.
Only those on a youth’s approved contacts list can put money on a youth’s account.
Youth may use money in their accounts to buy items from the facility canteen or personal items through the mail.
Tuesday, March 24
Clarification on Screening at Facility Entrances
We received several questions regarding yesterday’s communication about the screenings at the entrances to OYA facilities.
The screenings are an additional way for us to tell staff and contractors not to come inside if:
- they have a cough, fever, or shortness of breath;
- they have been diagnosed with COVID-19; or
- they have been medically mandated by their healthcare provider to stay home.
We have posted new signs at all facility entrances with these questions, and there will be an area near those entrances where everyone must sign and date that they comply. To be clear, we are not asking health services staff to conduct the screenings.
We are directing staff and contractors not to enter if they answer yes to any of the screening questions.
Guidance from State Police
The Oregon State Police released a great FAQ today with answers to all the questions they’ve been receiving relating to how the governor’s “Stay Home, Save Lives” directive will be enforced.
Among other things, they note that they will not be pulling over drivers out on the roads for things related to the executive order. (They will, however, still stop drivers who are committing crimes or traffic violations.)
Their entire FAQ is posted on the Oregon State Police Facebook page.
Stay Home, Save Lives — and Stay Calm
We know that many essential staff are not able to stay home from work, but we did want to re-emphasize the governor’s guidance to “Stay Home, Save Lives” whenever possible outside of reporting to work.
We know that this directive is not easy, but if everyone does their part, we can help prevent spread of the virus. We’re all in this together!
And if you need another idea for how to calm your nerves during this time, try these amazing live webcams we discovered from Monterey Bay Aquarium. You can watch sea otters, jellyfish, fish, and more! https://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animals/live-cams/
Monday, March 23
Governor Issues Order to “Stay Home, Save Lives”
Gov. Kate Brown issued an executive order today directing all Oregonians to stay home as much as possible. The order adds more businesses to the list of what must close, including malls, gyms, hair salons, theaters, and state offices. You can read more details on the governor’s coronavirus website: https://coronavirus.oregon.gov/.
OYA is still determining what all the parts of the order will mean for our operations.
We do know that any staff designated as “essential” still need to report to work. Staff who have worked out a telecommuting option with their managers may continue to do this. Any staff with questions about what the order means for their position should talk with their manager.
We’ve gotten a few questions from OYA staff wondering if they might be stopped by police when trying to go to work. The Department of Administrative Services has advised us that law enforcement will be focused on preventing gatherings and making sure business are following directives to close, so state employees should not be concerned about being pulled over while traveling to and from work.
We recognize that all the restrictions are not easy. However, if everyone does their part, we can help prevent spread of the virus. We’re all in this together!
Central Office and Field Offices Closed to Public
Part of the governor’s latest order is for all state agencies to close their offices or buildings to the public when possible.
Effective March 24, the public will not be able to come in to OYA’s Central Office or field offices until we are told otherwise. The offices are still open to employees, but in-person interactions between staff and the public need to be by appointment only.
We are in the process of posting appropriate signage, including information about how to contact OYA for services.
Youth at Residential Program Test Negative for COVID-19
We are happy to report that both youth at the community residential program who were being tested for COVID-19 have had their tests come back negative.
Health officials tell us this means the two youth no longer need to be in medical isolation.
Screening at Facility Entrances
Starting Tuesday, all OYA facilities will do screenings of anyone coming inside, including staff. These screenings will include questions about whether the person has COVID-19 symptoms or has been in contact with someone who has COVID-19.
Anyone who is not able to pass the screening will not be allowed to go inside. This is to help keep all our staff and youth at our facilities safe and healthy.
Online Resources – Check Out These Sites
Gov. Kate Brown has a website dedicated to Oregon coronavirus information and resources: https://coronavirus.oregon.gov/
The Office of Emergency Management has a website with resources for members of the public wanting to learn more about COVID-19 in Oregon, plus ways for people to offer services to assist in the state’s response: https://oregon-coronavirus-geo.hub.arcgis.com/
There’s Help If You Need It
We encourage you to take care of yourself, your team members, and your loved ones.
OYA and state employees, don’t forget that the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) has counselors available who can assist you on a confidential basis 24/7. Initial sessions are free. Here’s how to contact them:
State of Oregon Employee Assistance Program
Friday, March 20
Second youth at community program is tested
We’re happy to report that the COVID-19 test for the OYA youth at the contracted residential program in the community came back negative.
However, the other youth at the same program who was also sick has been tested for COVID-19.
Both youth have been in medical isolation since Saturday and will stay there until health officials advise us that they no longer need to do so. We will keep you updated as we hear results from the new COVID-19 test.
Thursday, March 19
UPDATED: Community Youth’s Test Comes Back Negative for COVID-19
Updated 5:30 p.m.:
An OYA youth’s COVID-19 test has come back negative.
The youth, who has been in medical isolation at an OYA contracted residential program in the community, was tested Saturday after exhibiting symptoms. Today, we learned that test was negative.
The youth, along with another youth at the program who is ill, have been in medical isolation. They will remain there until health authorities advise us that it is safe for them to no longer be isolated.
Wednesday, March 18
Youth Being Tested at Residential Program
We already reported about a youth in a contracted residential program who was tested for COVID-19. Unfortunately, test results have been delayed.
In the meantime, the youth’s health is reportedly improving. The youth has been in medical isolation with another youth who has been ill, but is also feeling better. The provider is continuing to work with local public health officials.
Yesterday, Gov. Kate Brown extended Oregon’s school closure through April 28. This does not apply to schools in our facilities. We are working with Oregon Department of Education to determine what our options are. We will keep you updated when we learn more.
Yesterday, DPSST (Department of Public Safety Standards and Training), where the OYA Training Academy is based, closed temporarily. You can read DPSST’s release here. OYA Training Academy staff are working remotely until further notice.
OYA Website Issues
You may have had issues this week accessing the OYA website. It has been experiencing intermittent outages due to recent high traffic. This has also been an issue for some other Oregon agencies. Our contractor is aware and working on a solution.
Finally, we wanted to address a few rumors by providing these additional facts:
- OYA intake and our contracted residential providers are still screening and accepting new youth.
- We still do not have any youth in our facilities being tested for COVID-19. We did have a youth at one facility who was ill. Because the youth had a fever, we requested that the hospital test for COVID-19. However, the hospital advised that a test was not needed because the youth did not meet the criteria. The youth remains in medical isolation.
Tuesday, March 17
Youth Being Tested at Residential Program
We are still waiting for results for the youth at our contracted community residential program who is being tested for COVID-19.
We have been having trouble obtaining the test results. We are continuing to work with public health officials and the testing hospital to get the results. We learned today that the results may be further delayed.
The youth is still in medical isolation, along with one other youth at the program who is also sick.
Statesman Journal story: Some people were confused about a story on the Statesman Journal website about the community youth being tested. The story initially featured a photo of MacLaren. However, the youth in question is not at MacLaren, and we do not have any youth at MacLaren being tested at this time. We got the newspaper staff to change the photo to prevent further confusion.
Tips for Reducing Anxiety
Here are a few good articles and websites we found with tips for reducing anxiety during these trying times. If you see any other good articles on this issue that you’d like to share, please send them to OYA.Communications@oya.state.or.us.
- CDC – Managing Anxiety and Stress: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/managing-stress-anxiety.html
- Minding Your Mental Health During the Coronavirus Outbreak: https://www2.hse.ie/wellbeing/mental-health/minding-your-mental-health-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak.html
- If coronavirus scares you, read this to take control over your health anxiety: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/mar/16/coronavirus-health-anxiety
Monday, March 16:
OYA Director Provides Coronavirus Update
Updates on the coronavirus situation continue to change by the hour, and we know you have questions and concerns.
Still Waiting for Test Result from Residential Program
On Saturday morning, we learned that a youth at one of our community contracted residential programs was sick and being tested for coronavirus. As of this afternoon, we still have not received test results.
The youth in question, plus another youth at the same program who is also sick, are being kept in medical isolation.
All youth at the program must remain there at this time. We have not yet received guidance saying that staff should be quarantined.
We have been reaching out to OYA staff who may have had recent contact with this program.
Visitors and Volunteers Not Allowed Inside OYA Facilities
Visitation at all OYA facilities is canceled until further notice, although exceptions may be made in rare circumstances. Also, no volunteers are allowed inside our facilities.
This started March 14 and is in effect temporarily for 30 days. We will re-evaluate this regularly.
Juvenile parole/probation officers, attorneys, and contractors still have access. Multi-disciplinary team meetings are being held via Skype.
Schools Closed in All Facilities
As of Tuesday, all the schools in our close-custody facilities will be closed until April 1. Most of them closed starting Monday.
Reschedule All Events
The governor’s office is advising agencies to reschedule all events, if possible. The latest guidance from this afternoon is to not have gatherings of more than 25 people for at least four weeks.
We ask that anyone who has planned any events for facilities or programs in the coming weeks to please take this into consideration.
Please let us know if you have any questions, and we will update you again when we know more about these issues.
OYA Announces School Closures in OYA Facilities
All schools in OYA facilities are closed through the end of the month.
While other close custody facilities’ schools are closed today, Monroe High School at Eastern Oregon Youth Correctional Facility in Burns held classes. However, it will be the last day of school for the next two weeks.
Oregon Department of Education oversees schools in our facilities, and leaders at both agencies consulted on the decision. Both agencies continue to evaluate the situation daily.
Sunday, March 15:
UPDATE: One OYA Youth In Community Being Tested for COVID-19
We previously reported that two youth at a residential program were being tested for coronavirus. We have since learned that two youth are being kept in medical isolation due to illness, but only one of them has been tested so far for coronavirus. We are still waiting for the test results. Additionally, program staff have not been quarantined, although all youth must remain at the program at this time. Below is a full update.
Saturday, March 14:
One OYA Youth In Community Being Tested for COVID-19
On Saturday morning, Oregon Youth Authority learned that a youth in one of our contracted residential programs is sick and is being tested for coronavirus (COVID-19). Test results take up to two days.
The youth in question and one other youth who is sick have received medical care and have been placed in medical isolation at the program.
OYA and the program directors have not yet received any guidance that program staff should be quarantined. Program directors are reaching out to local health officials to learn their guidance on how to proceed.
OYA has already contacted families of youth at the affected program. We are also notifying OYA staff who may have had contact with the youth or program staff.
OYA’s pandemic response team continues to meet to review next steps and operational concerns and to monitor the situation.
Friday, March 13:
Visitation at All OYA Facilities Canceled, Effective March 14
We know families, volunteers, and our partners are concerned about the coronavirus (COVID-19) and how we are keeping the youth in our care healthy and safe. We are closely monitoring the Oregon Health Authority for guidance.
We do not currently have any known or presumed cases of COVID-19 in OYA facilities. However, effective March 14, all visitation at all OYA facilities will be canceled until further notice.
This policy will be in effect temporarily for up to 30 days. We will re-evaluate regularly. It means:
- No visitors or volunteers.
- Juvenile parole/probation officers, attorneys, and contractors will still have access.
How to Contact Your Youth
We encourage you to contact your youth’s case coordinator or camp counselor to set up phone calls or video calls with your youth, using Skype for Business.
How Your Youth Can Stay Healthy
We are giving youth and everyone these tips for staying healthy:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, for 20 seconds.
- Don’t touch your face with unwashed hands.
- Don’t have contact with people who are sick.
- If you’re not feeling well, try to stay away from others the best you can.
- Sneeze or cough into a shirt sleeve or tissue (and if it’s a tissue, throw it in the trash and then wash your hands).
- Stay healthy by eating a good diet, exercising, getting plenty of rest, and making sure you’ve had all your vaccines, including your flu shot. Our facility clinics are still offering flu shots to youth who want them.
- We are also telling our staff that if they have any symptoms of illness, it’s best for them to stay home.
We are sorry to have to cancel visitation. We understand the importance of communication and connections between youth and their families. However, we feel we must enact some temporary measures for everyone’s health and safety. Thanks for your understanding.
Sabemos que están preocupados por el coronavirus (COVID-19) y cómo mantenemos a los jóvenes a nuestro cuidado sanos y seguros. Estamos monitoreando de cerca a la Autoridad de Salud de Oregon para obtener orientación al respecto.
Actualmente no tenemos ningún caso conocido o presunto de COVID-19 en las instalaciones de OYA. Sin embargo, a partir del 14 de marzo, todas las visitas a todas las instalaciones de OYA se cancelarán hasta nuevo aviso.
Esta política estará vigente temporalmente por lo menos 30 días. Lo reevaluaremos regularmente. Esto significa:
- No visitantes ni voluntarios.
- Los oficiales de libertad condicional/provisional, abogados y contratistas seguirán teniendo acceso.
Cómo contactar a su joven en OYA
Le recomendamos que se comunique con el coordinador de casos o el consejero de su joven en OYA para programar llamadas telefónicas o videollamadas con su joven en OYA, utilizando Skype para visita digital.
Cómo puede mantenerse saludable un joven en OYA
A estos jóvenes y a todos les damos estos consejos para mantenerse saludables:
- Lavarse las manos con frecuencia con agua y jabón durante 20 segundos.
- No te tocarse la cara con las manos sin lavar.
- No tener contacto con personas enfermas.
- Si no se siente bien, trate de mantenerse alejado de los demás lo mejor posible.
- Estornude o tosa en su brazo o pañuelo (y si es un pañuelo desechable, tírelo a la basura y luego lávese o desinféctese las manos).
- Manténgase saludable comiendo una buena dieta, haciendo ejercicio, descansando lo suficiente y asegurándose de haber recibido todas sus vacunas, incluida la vacuna contra la gripe. Las clínicas de nuestras instalaciones aún ofrecen vacunas contra la gripe a los jóvenes que las desean.
- También le estamos comunicando a nuestro personal que si tienen algún síntoma de enfermedad, es mejor que se queden en casa.
Lamentamos tener que cancelar las visitas. Entendemos la importancia de la comunicación y las conexiones entre los jóvenes y sus familias. Sin embargo, OYA considera que debemos promulgar algunas medidas temporales para la salud y la seguridad de todos. Gracias por su comprensión.
Monday, March 2:
Coronavirus: What You Need To Know
By Marcia Adams, M.D.
OYA Medical Director & Assistant Director
I’m sure you’ve heard about the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. We know you probably have concerns and questions. Some important things to know:
- As of March 2, there have been three presumed cases of coronavirus in Oregon. The situation is being monitored closely by public officials. Sign up here to get email updates on the coronavirus from the Oregon Health Authority.
- Get up-to-date information from the Oregon Health Authority. Because this is a rapidly-evolving situation, there is a great deal of misinformation about COVID-19 and its spread. Get up-to-date information on the Oregon Health Authority’s website and on OHA’s Facebook and Twitter.
- OYA has a plan for maintaining care for our youth in the event of widespread staff illnesses. We are reviewing the plan and will be working with OYA managers to make sure everyone knows what to do if a pandemic is declared — and educating youth on how to stay healthy. The governor’s office has also convened a coronavirus response team, made up of agency directors, to ensure a coordinated statewide response readiness plan is in place.
- We are working with OHA to gather answers to questions our staff and stakeholders may have. For those who have kids in school, the Oregon Department of Education has an information page with some FAQs.
- What you can do to reduce your risk.
- Sneeze or cough into a tissue that you then throw away.
- Wash your hands often or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that’s at least 60% alcohol. Here’s a great short video on how to do it right.
- Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
- Regularly clean high-traffic surfaces.
- Take care of your overall health: Stay current on vaccinations (including your flu vaccine), eat well, and exercise to keep your body healthy.
- Avoid close contact with those who are sick.
- If you do get sick, please stay home to avoid infecting others.
- If you plan to travel outside the United States, consult travel advisories first.
- There are also basic steps every household should take to prepare for any unexpected event:
- Learn about the policies at your place of employment surrounding sick leave and working from home.
- Establish a childcare plan in the event your kids need to stay home from school.
- Make sure you have the kinds of foods, drinks, medications and pet supplies you would want if you needed to stay home and limit your contact with other people for a couple of weeks. The Oregon Health Authority and the Governor’s Office recommend that Oregonians be 2 Weeks Ready in case of the need to shelter in place for an extended period of time.
- Get to know your neighbors, especially those who might need extra help like seniors or people living alone.
- The situation is changing rapidly. We’ll try to get you up-to-date information as we can.
We are keeping track of developments and will communicate regarding any updates affecting our staff, families, and the youth we serve.