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Lebanon vets home employee diagnosed with COVID-19
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Lebanon vets home employee diagnosed with COVID-19

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A woman reads a sign on the locked doors of the Edward C. Allworth Veterans' Home.

The state of Oregon announced on Sunday afternoon that a staff member at the Edward C. Allworth Veterans’ Home in Lebanon has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

That brings the cases of COVID-19 in Linn County to 10, and all of them are connected to the veterans’ home. Nine residents there had previously tested positive.

The employee at the veterans’ home was sent home when symptoms appeared and has remained in isolation ever since, according to a news release from the Oregon Health Authority.

After someone contracts COVID-19, illness usually develops within 14 days. People can spread the disease while they are asymptomatic, however, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In total, Oregon now has 39 people total who have been diagnosed with COVID-19. On Sunday afternoon, the Oregon Health Authority also reported one new case in Yamhill County and another case in Deschutes County, both of which are believed to have been acquired by community spread. The community spread of coronavirus and COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, was to be expected, said Dean Sidelinger, State Health Officer and Epidemiologist.

On Saturday, the state announced its first death due to the illness after a 70-year-old Multnomah County man died at the Portland Veterans' Affairs Medical Center. That individual was not connected to the Lebanon veterans' home.

The first two cases at the Edward C. Allworth Veterans’ Home in Lebanon were reported by the state on Wednesday night.

Last Monday, the facility had announced new rules to try to reduce the risk of the coronavirus to residents. Those steps included limiting access to the home to visitors. Those who wanted to enter the veterans’ home had to undergo a screening at the front desk to ensure that they did not have a fever, cough or chills.

The Edward C. Allworth Veterans' Home is seen as a jewel for the Lebanon area and further proof that the community has emerged from the timber downturn of the late 1980s and 1990s. The facility is part of a boom in the health services industry in Lebanon that was sparked by the 2011 opening of the nearby Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific-Northwest.

Lebanon welcomed the veterans’ home in September 2014, and it has since become a central part of the community. Students from nearby Pioneer School have frequently volunteered there and visited with residents over the years, for example.  

The 11-acre, $40 million veterans’ home has more than 150 beds for those who have served in the United States Armed Forces.

The Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs is working closely with the OHA to coordinate and prioritize testing for residents and staff of the Edward C. Allworth Veterans’ Home in Lebanon, the OHA news release states.

“Protecting our dedicated staff, along with our residents, has always been the highest priority. All infectious disease control precautions were, and continue to be, taken to mitigate the spread,” said ODVA Director Kelly Fitzpatrick, in the OHA news release.

“I cannot speak highly enough of the herculean efforts these staff members have taken to continue to provide exceptional care to our honored residents even before this outbreak. They are truly going above and beyond, and all efforts are being made by the ODVA, our state agency partners, and our Linn County partners to support them in their critical work,” Fitzpatrick added.

Kyle Odegard can be contacted at 541-812-6077 or kyle.odegard@lee.net.

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