March 11, 2020
PORTLAND, Ore.—The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) today announced Linn County’s first two presumptive positive cases of COVID-19. The new cases, involving two males over the age of 80, brings Oregon’s total to 21 total cases in eight counties.
Like the cases in Polk, Marion and Deschutes, the Linn County cases had no known close contacts with confirmed cases, so they are considered community-spread.
An Infection Control and Specimen Collection Strike Team will deploy to Linn County. The team will assess and work with the facility to assess infection control. The team will collect specimen samples for COVID-19 testing from all residents and care providers.
Upon initial evaluation, residents with symptoms were initially tested for flu, and respiratory illness. As an extra precaution, that facility had previously switched its ventilation system to circulating 100% outside air to mitigate the potential spread of infectious disease. the residents continued to receive appropriate medical care and were placed in isolation. Infectious disease prevention protocols also continued to be followed to protect other residents and staff.
Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs Director Kelly Fitzpatrick said “our highest priority has always been the health and safety of our most honored veteran residents that we serve in our two veterans’ homes. From the start of concerns about COVID-19, and especially upon learning that the very age group that resides in our veterans’ homes is also the most susceptible, we took immediate measures to protect our veterans, including adhering to state and federal guidelines. Even before COVID-19 emerged, the two veterans’ homes regularly followed strict infectious disease protocols. We believe that protecting the health and safety of the veterans in our homes helps ensure we live up to their motto, ‘the place where honor lives.’ We have a sacred trust to safeguard them now.”
OHA, in consultation with the Oregon Department of Human Services, issued a policy to limit exposure to COVID-19 at long-term care facilities yesterday.
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; and
- 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.