The outbreak of COVID-19 at a care facility in the Willamette Valley has spread to six additional residents, according to the Oregon Health Authority.
Six residents of Oregon Veterans' Home in Lebanon, where two people were diagnosed this week with COVID-19, have tested positive for COVID-19 and are presumptive positive cases, the OHA said in a release.
The affected individuals include one man between ages 55 and 74 and five men aged 75 years or older. While their illnesses are considered linked to the two earlier cases, the exact sources of their exposures are not known. All have been placed in isolation at the facility.
“Tonight our thoughts are with these veterans and their loved ones,” OHA Director Patrick Allen said. “We are working closely with Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the facility’s staff and Linn County Public Health to ensure they get the best care and support possible.”
The new cases bring Linn County’s total number of presumptive positive cases to eight. There now are 30 cases of the virus statewide, as of 8:13 p.m. today.
“Our deepest concerns are with our now eight veteran residents who have tested positive for COVID-19,” Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director Kelly Fitzpatrick said. “Our thoughts are with their families and loved ones, and with our staff at the Oregon Veterans’ Home who are working tirelessly to provide exceptional care to all residents. Our hearts go out to everyone who has been affected by this rapidly evolving pandemic, but we can’t help but feel special concern for what is happening at our Veterans’ Home. These residents are our nation’s heroes. They protected our freedoms and way of life that we now enjoy. It is nothing less than our sacred duty to now fight for them. We will continue to do everything in our power to protect our residents and staff, and mitigate the spread of this virus within our facility.”
Wednesday night, an Infection Control and Specimen Collection Strike Team from OHA deployed to the Veterans' Home to help support existing and additional infection control practices and help collect specimens. Samples from the suspected cases were brought to the Oregon State Public Health Laboratory early this morning, and test results were released late this afternoon.
On Wednesday, Oregon Department of Human Services, in consultation with OHA, issued a policy to limit exposure to COVID-19 at long-term care facilities. The guidance directs nursing, assisted living and residential care facilities, including those providing memory care, to:
- Restrict visitation to only essential individuals.
- Limit essential visitors to two per resident at a given time.
- Screen all permitted visitors for respiratory or other symptoms potentially indicating COVID-19, and for recent travel to an affected geographic area or high-risk setting prior to entering the facilities.
- Document the screenings for all visitors.
- Limit community outings.
- Support residents’ access to socialization when visitors are not able to enter the facility through virtual visits.
Health officials continue to urge all Oregonians to take steps to protect those who are most vulnerable to complications from COVID-19.
Oregon response: The Oregon Health Authority leads the state response.
United States response: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention leads the U.S. response.
Global response: The World Health Organization guides the global response.
Follow this developing story here online and in the Wednesday print editions of The Chronicle.