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All residents test negative, staff members show no symptoms and are isolating at home

COURTESY PHOTO - Though The Springs Living at Lake Oswego administered surface testing for COVID-19 and found no evidence of the virus on frequently touched surfaces, The Springs at Carman Oaks found a doorknob that showed evidence of the virus.Four staff members at The Springs at Carman Oaks tested positive for the novel coronavirus within the last week.

Residents and staff were tested after the virus was detected on a door handle in the Assisted Living and Memory Care building using surface testing June 3.

Preliminary results arrived June 4 and the facility began testing residents June 5.

The four staff had no contact with the independent living building and since testing positive, they have been isolating at home.

For three weeks, The Springs facilities across Oregon and Montana as well as other senior living facilities across the Pacific Northwest participated in a study with Enviral Tech — a Eugene-based company that provides repeatable COVID-19 testing for surfaces in companies with office spaces, stores, gyms, schools and long-term care communities.

According to Enviral Tech's website: "We provide environmental testing kits and CDC- and FDA-approved testing methods to detect and quantify the COVID-19 virus on surfaces and in air samples. Use those kits to monitor COVID-19 exposure and give your employees and community peace of mind."

A total of 52 senior living facilities participated in the study that ends Friday, June 12. Enviral Tech administered easy-to-use surface tests and has been collecting data from these facilities.

Each kit costs $300, or $225 if the facilities opted for a subscription model, and Enviral Tech covered a little more than half of the cost.

According to Shula Jaron, an officer on the Enviral Tech Board, the main purposes of the study were to demonstrate the effectiveness of this technique and the tools that were used, as well as collecting data outside of an academic lab. Surface testing hasn't been very accessible to most businesses like senior living facilities.

"We really wanted to collect that data so we could then share it with the world," said Jaron, adding that these facilities have been able to detect positive COVID-19 cases up to a week earlier than they would have by using the traditional means of testing. "I hope that we can get the word out there so that people know there's a way to do surveillance and really take care of your employees, staff and your residents."

After surface testing all 17 of The Springs senior living facilities, positive tests were also found in the Salem facility. Six staff members and eight residents tested positive — though the testing at this facility was provoked after a family member of an employee tested positive. Surface testing and human testing results came in at about the same time.

But at The Springs at Carman Oaks, early detection was made possible by testing frequently touched surfaces.

"We want to hunt the virus," The Springs Living Founder and CEO Fee Stubblefield said. "This virus is like a forest fire. If you get on it right away you can put it out."

After the study completed, The Springs saw the value of surface testing and plans to continue testing on a weekly basis to help prevent an outbreak.

In April, one resident at The Springs at Lake Oswego — a new facility located off of Boones Ferry Road — tested positive. Recent surface testing at The Springs at Lake Oswego showed no evidence of COVID-19 on frequently touched surfaces.

For additional information on safety protocols the senior living facility is taking and updated COVID-19 information, visit their website.


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