Stafford Creek Corrections Center reported the death of corrections officer David A. Christensen, 62, Dec. 30. As of that date Christensen was the second corrections officer in the state to die from complications of COVID-19.
Aberdeen Police Chief Steve Shumate announced Christensen’s death to the Aberdeen City Council last week, saying only that he had “passed away after a short illness.” Christensen was well-known among local law enforcement and had worked as jail superintendent in the Sheriff’s Office and as a corrections officer in Aberdeen.
The most current numbers from the Department of Corrections released Dec. 31 show 900 incarcerated individuals have tested positive for COVID-19 at Stafford Creek. Additionally, “The number of COVID-19 positive recovered individuals is increasing and they will begin to have access to the dayrooms throughout the day.”
The Stafford Creek numbers have inflated the county’s numbers in the last weeks. In a week’s time between Wednesday, Dec. 22, and Wednesday, Dec. 30, 437 cases of COVID-19 were reported in Grays Harbor County, with three new deaths reported Dec. 29. Total cases stood at 2,134 Dec. 30, deaths at 24.
Public Health updates numbers on its website five days a week, except holidays, but the current case count as of Sunday, Jan. 3, had not been updated as of 2 p.m. Monday.
Christensen had most recently worked for the Department of Corrections since May 2020 after having previously worked for the department from 2015-2017 at the Clallam Bay and Stafford Creek corrections centers, according to a Department of Corrections statement. He had a long career in corrections and criminal justice, working over the years for the Oregon Department of Corrections, Grays Harbor County Jail, Aberdeen Police Department and the Grays Harbor County Juvenile Department.
“It is with deep sadness that we announce the loss of Correctional Officer David Christensen due to COVID-19. Our hearts go out to Officer Christensen’s grieving family and honor the sacrifice they have made,” said Stephen Sinclair, state Secretary of Corrections. “It is a tragedy to lose a member of our public safety community and correctional family.”
“I personally knew Dave for several years and he always impressed me with his leadership skills and his desire to support his fellow officers,” said Ron Haynes, Stafford Creek Corrections Center Superintendent. “Dave’s humble nature and interest in maintaining safety of those at the facility were very much in line with the department’s values. Dave was a good man and will be missed by all of us who had the honor of working with and knowing him.”
On Dec. 10, the Department of Corrections announced an inmate had passed away at a local heath care facility “due to a COVID-19 related illness.”
Grays Harbor Community Hospital
Thursday, Grays Harbor Community Hospital spokesman Christopher Majors said the hospital is able to keep COVID-19 patients “safely isolated and can continue to serve you and your family safely. While we continue to see a higher rate of hospitalized COVID-19 patients we currently have enough staff and beds to safely accommodate the numbers that we are seeing, though we are at the highest levels thus far in the pandemic.”
Drive up testing at the hospital is still available. Call 360-537-5100 to make an appointment.
The hospital has installed its ultra-cold freezer to store Pfizer vaccines, the second shipment of which was expected to arrive this week, said Majors.
“Phase 1A continued with frontline health care workers and first responders,” said Majors. “Planning continues so we are ready to expand our vaccination to more of our community as the state allows.”
Pacific County COVID-19 update
In its weekly update Dec. 30, Pacific County Public Health reported a total of 576 COVID cases for the pandemic, up 16 from the previous week. However, the number of active cases dropped from 33 Dec. 23 to 29 Dec. 30, and the number of closed cases rose to 547, 22 more than the previous week.
The county’s death rate rose by one during the week to five. Deaths stood at 3 for many months before an additional death reported Dec. 23 and the other Dec. 30. The five deaths raised the county’s percent of deaths per cases from .5% Dec. 16 to .9% Dec. 30.
The county’s cases per 100,000 population for the previous two weeks dropped to 157.1 as of Dec. 30, down significantly from the 263.4 the week before. Over the past three weeks the rate has dropped by more than half. The rate of positive test results to total tests administered was 16.5% Dec. 30.