Several residents of Astor House at Springbrook Oaks diagnosed with COVID-19

GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - Astor House at Springbrook Oaks, a Newberg retirement community, has several residents that have tested positive for COVID-19, the virus that causes coronavirus.

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Newberg increased this week with the announcement that several residents of a local retirement facility have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The cases were confirmed at Astor House at Springbrook Oaks, a retirement community near the intersection of Brutscher and Hayes streets in northeast Newberg. Astor House is owned by Holiday Retirement, a giant Winter Park, Fla.-based company with hundreds of facilities in 43 states.

Alyssa Cerrito, communications manager for Holiday Retirement, said heightened protocols have been put in place in response to the outbreak at Astor House.

"Our extensive multi-stage protocol prevents and manages the occurrence of a flu, contagious illness or infectious disease among our residents and employees in our communities," a statement on the company's website prior to the outbreak said. "This includes COVID-19. Our protocols address all aspects of our community operations, including dining, housekeeping, activities and transportation. In addition, they cover visitor screening, cleaning of common areas, social distancing, restricted access and other measures we follow to ensure the safety of our residents and employees."

Since the diagnoses earlier this week, Cerrito said, residents are self-quarantining and receiving their meals in their rooms after the facility's dining room was closed. All common areas have been closed, activities suspended and transportation services halted as well.

Announcement of the Astor House cases follow Sunday's determination that a George Fox University undergrad student had been diagnosed with the coronavirus. The unidentified student had been living a residence hall on campus during winter semester.

The Yamhill County Public Health Department reported on March 25 that seven confirmed cases of the virus have been tallied since the outbreak began in February. One case is among the 35- to 54-years-old age bracket, while the rest are individuals 55 or older.

The department has adopted specific protocols to address the outbreak. "Yamhill County follows investigative guidelines provided by the Oregon Health Authority to address outbreaks," Lindsay Manfrin, director of the Health and Human Services Department said. "Each outbreak response may look slightly different given the type of facility and the illness.

"One thing to note is that places that are independent living, versus assisted living or long-term care facilities, have different levels of ability to require people living on the property follow the facility's guidelines."

The county department, Manfrin said, takes specific steps when faced with an outbreak, including determining the cause and course of the outbreak through symptom logs, developing a timeframe for onset, creating an epidemic curve to track the course of the outbreak and collecting and testing specimens when applicable. The department will also implement control measures such as providing the facility and reviewing with them information about hand hygiene, isolation of ill persons, review of staff illness policies, invoke environmental precautions such as closing communal eating and where applicable provide prophylaxis or vaccinations (not applicable with COVID-19).

"There are different levels of control places have based on their unique set up and circumstances as far as independent living or not," Manfrin said. "With that said the big things are good hand hygiene, isolating ill individuals and keeping sick staff home are critical."

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