Mid-valley reports 5 new cases of COVID-19
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Mid-valley reports 5 new cases of COVID-19

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Stock Pix-Edward C. Allworth08

The Bravo unit of the Edward C. Allworth Veterans' Home in Lebanon.

Oregon has 64 new cases of COVID-19, including four in Linn County and one in Benton, the Oregon Health Authority announced on Thursday, raising the state’s total to 2,510 cases of the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

OHA also reported the deaths of a 69-year-old Multnomah County man and a 77-year-old Marion County man, both of whom had underlying medical conditions. The state’s death toll from COVID-19 now stands at 103.

Linn County has tallied 86 infections and seven deaths since the coronavirus pandemic began. All seven people who died from the disease have been residents of the Edward C. Allworth Veterans’ Home in Lebanon.

The home has also seen the biggest cluster of coronavirus cases in the county, with 21 residents and 17 staff members testing positive for the disease, according to information from OHA and the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs.

There has also been a significant COVID-19 outbreak at the National Frozen Foods plant in Albany. According to information from county health officials, 18 people associated with the food processing plant have tested positive for the disease.

Benton County has had 30 cases and five deaths from the disease. Three of those fatalities have been hospitalized former residents of Corvallis Manor. The long-term care facility has had 12 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including seven residents and five employees, making it the largest known cluster of coronavirus cases in the county.

Corvallis Manor reported this week that four residents with COVID-19 are being cared for in the facility’s isolation wing by nursing staff who treat only those residents. Employees who have tested positive are self-isolating at home.

Statewide, 25 congregate care facilities (not including prisons) have active COVID-19 outbreaks involving three or more cases or at least one death. While these facilities have accounted for just 383 of more than 2,500 coronavirus cases in Oregon, they have produced 57 deaths, more than half of the state’s total.

But even though two of the largest COVID-19 outbreaks in the mid-valley have occurred at residential care facilities, Benton County’s top public health official says he believes it would be a mistake to assume that the infections resulted from inadequate safety precautions or substandard care.

“We’re seeing this nationally, we’re certainly seeing it across Oregon and it’s hitting us locally,” said Charlie Fautin, interim co-director of the Benton County Health Department. “At these congregate living situations, once the virus gets a foothold it is very, very difficult to stop the spread through both the residents and staff, and that’s affected both the VA and Corvallis Manor.”

Because people with COVID-19 can transmit the disease before they start showing symptoms, Fautin said, it can be easy for the virus to gain a foothold in a congregate care setting and spread rapidly through the population, even when all appropriate measures are being taken.

“We’ve been working really closely with Corvallis Manor, and they are doing an excellent job of trying to provide the best possible control they can,” he said.

“It’s not these two facilities in particular,” Fautin added. “They’re just unfortunate that they are ones where the virus gained entry and started spreading one way or another.”

According to the most recent data from OHA, 860 Oregonians have now recovered from the disease, including 34 Linn County residents and 12 from Benton County.

Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 26,512 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday for a total of 1,031,659 and 2,552 new deaths for a total of 60,057 since the pandemic began.

Reporter Bennett Hall can be contacted at bennett.hall@lee.net or 541-812-6111. Follow him on Twitter at @bennetthallgt.

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