A COVID-19 outbreak has been identified at the Oregon Veterans’ Home in The Dalles. Nine cases are confirmed and include staff, residents and household contacts of staff, according to an Oct. 30 press release from North Central Public Health.
The initial cases were confirmed Oct. 25, and the latest Oct. 30. None were hospitalized as of Oct. 30.
All staff and residents at the facility have been tested.
Oregon Veterans’ Home responded immediately to notification of the first case and have taken all appropriate measures to ensure the safety of their residents and staff, the release stated. All residents and staff who tested negative will be re-tested weekly until there are two consecutive weeks of all negative tests.
On Oct. 28, Tyler Francke, community and media relations coordinator for Oregon Veterans’ Affairs (OVA) in Salem, said two residents tested positive for the coronavirus. Those residents had already been isolated and additional safety measures had been taken. Those cases were confirmed Oct. 29.
Prior to the first presumptive cases, “we were allowing outdoor visitation, with additional restrictions,” Francke said. When two residents showed evidence of apparent COVID-19 infection, the facility reinstated stricter guidelines in response. Those residents tested positive Oct. 29. “The residents have been isolated and are being cared for by dedicated staff following strict infection control procedures,” he said.
Agencies involved in response to the outbreak are North Central Public Health District, which is the local public health authority; the Oregon Health Authority’s Urgent Epidemiology Response Team (UERT); and the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Unit (CRRU), a shared service between OHA and the Oregon Department of Human Services, according to the public health district.
UERT epidemiologists serve as OHA representatives for outbreaks at long-term care facilities. They are collaborating with NCPHD to monitor the outbreak. They also provide infection control consultations and approve testing at the Oregon State Public Health Laboratory.
The Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs (OVA) and facility staff are working closely with state and public health officials to provide the best possible care to residents, including activating additional steps to protect residents, staff and the community to mitigate the spread of infectious disease.
Steps include restrictions on visitation, admissions and activities, Francke said.
“These requirements will remain in place until the Home is no longer affected by COVID-19 and the Executive Order is lifted by the Department of Human Services.”
How to help
Those wishing to reach out to veterans during the outbreak are encouraged to send cards or letters to residents, said Francke. Cards can be addressed to specific residents, or “a veteran,” or “a staff member,” he said. Mail can be sent directly to 700 Veterans Drive, The Dalles, OR 97058. Video greetings and messages can also be sent via email to email@example.com. Videos will be shown on screens in the common areas, he said. Submissions should be addressed with “attn: Operation Well Wish.”
“We had an outbreak in Lebanon in March, and received a flood of letters and over 100 videos from the community,” Fancke noted.
Questions about the status of visitation or admissions can be addressed by calling 541-296-7190. Further information about the status or impact of COVID-19 on Oregon Veterans’ Homes can be found at www.oregonveteranshomes.com or by calling the dedicated COVID-19 status line at 541-226-3526.
The OVA owns and operates two homes in Oregon, one in The Dalles and the other in Lebanon.