Veterans’ home on lockdown after 8 test positive for virus


Staff is helping to keep veterans connected to loved ones during the lockdown

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — There are now eight residents at a veterans’ home in Lebanon who have tested positive for the coronavirus. The facility is on lockdown.

During this lockdown at the Edward C. Allworth Veterans’ Home, no visitors are allowed and only essential people are allowed in the building, including medical personnel. There are four residential buildings at the Lebanon location. As officials get test results back, they said it appears that the coronavirus is contained in one building.

“Those veterans are our nation’s heroes; they protected our freedoms and the way of life that we enjoy now,” said Kelly Fitzpatrick, Director of the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs. “Now, it’s my sacred duty and my agency’s sacred duty to fight for them and we are going to do everything in our power to do that, to make sure we mitigate the spread of the virus among the residents and staff.”

All eight veterans who tested positive are in isolation within the facility. What we know is that five of the men are older than 75 years old, another man is between 54 and 74 years old. Right now, health officials believe that those six cases are linked to the two previous cases discovered in the facility, however, they do not know the source of the exposure.

Officials are also testing other staff and residents. So far, 28 tests have come back negative.

“I’m grateful to the staff members who are working so hard every day with the veterans,” said Fitzpatrick. “The Linn County community and all the parents at the state and federal level.”

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The Oregon Health Authority strike team is assisting with the situation and has collected specimens for testing. The directors of the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs said their hearts go out to everyone affected.

“We want to make sure we take care of our nation’s heroes who are in the Lebanon home and we make sure their family and friends can rest easy knowing that they are in the best possible place right now,” said Fitzpatrick.

Currently, these are presumptive cases of the coronavirus in Linn County. Local public health officials said more than 100 tests were conducted on Friday. The issue is that the state public health lab can only run 80 tests a day.

The Edward C. Allworth Veterans’ Home will be on lockdown for the foreseeable future. The staff has been working to keep veterans connected to their loved ones during the lockdown through phone or video chat. The Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs has a website and a hotline—(541)-730-4344—that anyone can visit or call to get updated information.

Community reaction

The veterans’ home facility employs many people who live in town or in the surrounding Linn County area. As the situation develops with the residence inside the home, people are wondering what might happen next and how it might impact the greater community.

Chris Dair was picking up some extra supplies in Lebanon Friday, now that the kids are home due to school closures.

“I think with what’s going on in the veterans’ home, people are a little bit concerned,” said Dair. “I would say there’s probably a little extra thrown on, but I’m not going overboard.”

Residents in town have been very aware that a number of COVID-19 cases have been identified at the Edward C Allworth Veterans’ Home.

“It’s kind of weird that it is close because we are only about four blocks from there,” said resident Billy Howerton.

“I’m kind of shocked that it made it here because I’m from Salem—there is a bigger population there and you kind of hear about those things there and then it showed up in Lebanon,” said Linzy Griffin.

Lebanon residents said there are a lot of unknowns, and it’s a matter of wait-and-see.

“I’m concerned about the older population and people at risk,” said Dair.

“I don’t feel like I’m at great risk for catching it, but I guess you never really know. It made it this far,” said Howerton.

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