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Employees say long-term care facility in Columbia County is having a COVID outbreak

While the state is reporting five cases of coronavirus so far, staff at Meadow Park say the outbreak is much bigger than that.

ST. HELENS, Ore — A long-term care facility in Columbia County is dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak and workers there said it has infected the majority of residents and some staff members, too.

Meadow Park Health and Specialty Care is in St. Helens. Certified nursing assistant Liliauna Fleming spoke to KGW right after finishing her shift there on Wednesday afternoon.

“I am absolutely exhausted, I had 13 residents to myself today which is way out of census," said Fleming. “Ten or 11 of those have COVID. I had to step out of the building at one point just to catch my breath, it was horrible.”

The Oregon Health Authority reported five positive cases of COVID-19 at the medical care facility. However, those results were as of Sunday.

Fleming says now, many of the 31 residents and some staff members have tested positive for the coronavirus.

“We have almost 30 positive cases from residents and staff; 21 of those are residents and we only have 31 residents,” said Fleming.

One of the sick workers is Angel Cook, a CNA who learned she had COVID-19 Wednesday morning when she arrived at work.

She's upset that facility administrators didn't try harder to contact her with the results they had on Tuesday.

“If you didn't get a response why didn't you try harder?” asked Cook.

She said she would have avoided contact with her two boys, including a 4-year-old, if she'd known.

“A roundabout kind of betrayal I guess, I would never have left my house, I would never have let my kids leave my house. I would never have gone to get my son,” said Cook, of what not knowing her test result meant to her family’s safety.

Cook, who is now quarantining for 10 days, said communication has been lacking all around where she works.

KGW tried to reach management at Meadow Park but our call was not returned.

In the meantime, SEIU union workers all signed a petition demanding hazard pay. Only those working with COVID patients have been getting it. Now contact with COVID at Meadow Park would seem hard to avoid.

But people like Liliauna Fleming will keep doing their jobs there, all the same.

“And even if I didn't feel the responsibility to go take care of these people who need me, and to help my coworkers who need the help, I can't afford not to have my job,” said Fleming, who added, “I can’t even afford to have my job at this point.”