By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

COVID outbreak at Mac care center tied to 11 deaths, dozens of cases

The positive news this week that COVID-19 vaccines were on the way was dampened by the report of 10 new deaths in Yamhill County, a 50% increase to the local toll that is now at 30.

Yamhill County Public Health released a press release Thursday afternoon stating that 11 recent COVID deaths are tied to an outbreak at Majorie House Memory Care Community in McMinnville; and 35 more people there have tested positive.

"Our hearts go out to everyone involved in this incredibly sad situation we find ourselves in," said Health and Human Services Director Lindsey Manfrin. 

The deaths reported by the state this week occurred between Dec. 5 and Dec. 15:

n A 73-year-old woman in Yamhill County who tested positive on Nov. 24 and died on Dec. 5 at Willamette Valley Medical Center. Presence of underlying conditions is being confirmed;

n An 86-year-old woman in Yamhill County, with underlying conditions, who tested positive on Nov. 24 and died Dec. 7 at her residence;

n A 94-year-old woman in Yamhill County, with underlying conditions, who tested positive on Nov. 24 and died Dec. 8 at her residence;

n A 79-year-old woman in Yamhill County, with underlying conditions, who tested positive on Nov. 24 and died Dec. 9 at Willamette Valley Medical Center;

n A 98-year-old woman in Yamhill County, with underlying conditions, who tested positive on Nov. 24 and died Dec. 9 at her residence;

n A 79-year-old woman in Yamhill County, with underlying conditions, who tested positive on Nov. 24 and died Dec. 10 at her residence;

n An 87-year-old woman in Yamhill County, with underlying conditions, who tested positive on Nov. 4 and died Dec. 12 at her residence;

n A 91-year-old woman in Yamhill County, with underlying conditions, who tested positive on Nov. 24 and died Dec. 13 at her residence;

n An 80-year-old man in Yamhill County, with underlying conditions, who tested positive on Nov. 30 and died Dec.13 at his residence. He had underlying conditions;

n A 62-year-old woman in Yamhill County, with underlying conditions, who tested positive on Nov. 24 and died Dec. 15 at her residence.

The Oregon Health Authority reported 54 new deaths on Tuesday and 48 on Wednesday. Allen said that lagging counts are partly to blame for the massive number.

“The counting of deaths from death certificates may take time to process because they are determined by physicians and then sent to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for further review before the cause of death is ultimately determined," Allen said. "Once this information is confirmed, the information is reported back with a final cause of death to states. This lagging indicator is now being captured today,” he explained in a press release.

The OHA's latest weekly report, Dec. 7-13., showed a reduction in deaths, cases and hospitalizations related to COVID-19. There was an 11% decrease in new cases, following seven consecutive record high weekly case counts.

Statewide, there were 491 people hospitalized for COVID-19, a slight decline from the previous week, and 116 reported COVID-19 reported deaths, down from 133 the previous week.

There also were fewer people being tested. The state reported that for the week of Dec. 6-12, the number of COVID-19 tests administered to Oregonians dropped to 149,243 from 170,964 the previous week. The percentage of positive tests was also lower, at 7.4%.

Cases in Yamhill County remained steadily near 30 a day this week. The county reported 35 new cases Thursday, bringing the total to 2,299.

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The first COVID-19 doses of vaccines, manufactured by Pfizer, were administered Wednesday to hospital staff at OHSU, Saint Alphonsus Medical Center in Ontario, and at Legacy Health’s Holladay Park and Meridian Park, The OHA reported.

Yamhill County Public Health said it expects to begin receiving a supply "in the upcoming weeks."

The state is set to receive 35,100 doses this week, of which 10,725 doses are being sent to pharmacies serving skilled nursing facilities, as part of a federal partnership with CVS, Walgreens and Consensus Healthcare to offer on-site, no-cost COVID-19 vaccines to staff and residents of more than 680 long term care facilities in Oregon.

OHA vaccinations are scheduled to begin next week with skilled nursing facilities, then with a variety of congregate care settings, including “a handful” of facilities caring for residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

A vaccine made by Moderna Inc. is expected to receive FDA emergency use authorization within days, OHA said;  71,900 doses of that are scheduled to arrive the week of Dec. 20, and 31,700 doses the week of Dec. 27. Those those numbers could change, OHA noted.

Willamette Valley Medical Center is still waiting to hear from the OHA about when its first allotment would arrive, hospital spokesman Cooper Fisher told the News-Register Wednesday.

“We anticipate receiving an initial allocation of 500 doses of vaccine, with subsequent shipments each week. We are currently finalizing internal plans,” for distribution, he said.

Providence Newberg said its share, about 2,000 doses, would be shared among all of the Providence hospitals, and it is not yet clear how many will go to Newberg.

“We are finalizing our plans for where and when these vaccines will be administered, and caregivers are signing up to receive the vaccines as they are available,” spokesman Mike Antrim said. "We are giving priority to front-line caregivers whose work places them closest to patients with COVID-19."

He added: “Assuming the Moderna vaccine receives the necessary approvals, Providence believes it will have enough doses available to reach our caregivers in greatest need of the vaccination by the end of the year.”

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Countywide, there have been 69 COVID hospitalizations reported since the beginning of the pandemic, with 566 cases listed as "Stutus Unknown." That number has increased from 46 since Nov. 13, when Gov. Brown announced an initial two-week freeze across the state.

Fisher said Willamette Valley has seen a slight increase in hospitalizations, but the number remains small.

“At this time, our hospital is well equipped with supplies, resources, and capacity to meet patient needs and has not canceled elective procedures," he said, adding that it's not time "to let our guard down."

"It (will) take all of us being extra cautious and taking every possible preventive measure to change the course of the pandemic and avoid a greater healthcare and economic crisis," he said. "“We call upon every community member in our communities to lead by example — wear a mask over your nose and mouth, wash your hands frequently, practice social distancing, and avoid group gatherings.”

The OHA discussed the struggle many Oregonians are having with emotional impacts from the pandemic and its widespread health, economic and social implications.

Mental and emotional health resources for people who are struggling with the are available on OHA’s Safe Strong website, www.safestrongoregon.org.

People also may call the Safe Strong Helpline at 800-923-4357 (800-923-HELP). The line offers free, 24-7 emotional support and resource referral to anyone who needs it – not only those experiencing a mental health crisis.

Comments

BT

Eight of the 10 deaths reported here were people who had tested positive on Tuesday, Nov. 24. It is worth knowing if that unusual grouping was coincidence or because of the testing or laboratory regime. For example, are tests batched to be completed on a weekly basis? If tests are batched then that leads to delays in letting patients and their contacts know the results.

Nicole Montesano

BT, I sent your question to the county Health and Human Services Director, Lindsey Manfrin.
Here is her answer: "Long term care facilities are required to do regular testing of staff and residents so they were likely collected the same day and then resulted the same day."