Veteran Succumbs to COVID-19 at Lebanon Veterans’ Home; State Toll Now at 5

COVID-19 claimed another life in Oregon Sunday, raising the state’s death toll to five. The latest victim was a resident of the Oregon Veterans’ Home in Lebanon, where 14 residents had tested positive for the coronavirus. This was the first reported death there that has been linked to the disease.

According to officials, the resident was a veteran in his 90s who had tested positive on March 11, and died early Sunday morning at the Veterans’ Home. He had underlying medical conditions.

“Our hearts are heavy,” said Kelly Fitzpatrick, director of the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs, which owns the Home. “This resident was a veteran who served our nation with honor and dignity in its hour of need. He was also a beloved member of our Lebanon community, and he will be deeply and truly missed.

“On behalf of everyone at the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Oregon Veterans’ Home, we offer our sincere condolences to his family and loved ones. We grieve with them.”

Since the opening of the Home in 2014, every veteran resident who has passed away has been honored with the “Walk of Honor” in recognition of their service to our country. Typically, staff, residents and family would line the halls to salute and pay their last respects.

Today, amid the COVID-19 situation, staff adjusted this long-honored tribute. Outside, staff were invited to line the sidewalks (maintaining appropriate social distancing) while his body was escorted to the waiting transportation, draped with a burial flag and a handmade quilt from Quilts of Valor.

Staff fold the burial flag 13 times in accordance with honor guard standards and present it to a family member. Multiple precautionary sterilization measures were taken to protect against the spread of the virus.

“The Walk of Honor is the last form of respect we can offer to honor our veteran and their family,” said Director Fitzpatrick. “In these unprecedented times, traditions are more important than ever. We will continue to ensure our brothers and sisters in arms receive every honor they deserve while following public health guidelines.”

The first Oregonian reported to die in the outbreak was a 70-year-old Multnomah County resident with unspecified additional health problems, who died March 14 at the Veterans’ Affairs Medical Center in Portland. The other Oregon deaths linked to COVID-19 include a woman from Lane County, 60, a man from Washington County, 71, and a woman from Marion County, 72.

Oregon Health Authority reported 30 new cases of COVID-19 Monday morning, including two in Clackamas County, bringing the state’s total to 191. The county’s total is now 14, which is believed to include an employee at a Canby-area farming operation. A total of 431 county residents have tested negative.

Officials continue to urge all Oregonians to take steps to protect themselves, their families, and those who are most vulnerable to complications from COVID-19. Those considered “high risk” include adults 60 and older, or anyone with a serious health condition, including lung or heart problems, kidney disease, diabetes, or anyone who has a suppressed immune system.

People vulnerable to complications should follow CDC recommendations to stay home as much as possible and avoid gatherings.

Every resident should take these basic steps to protect themselves and those most at risk:

  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces like bathrooms, desks, countertops, doorknobs, computer keyboards, faucet handles, toys and cell phones.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home and away from others if you are ill.
  • After someone contracts COVID-19, illness usually develops within 14 days. Symptoms mirror those of the flu, including fever, cough, runny nose, headache, sore throat and general feelings of illness.

    For the latest information, visit www.healthoregon.org/coronavirus.

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