A San Antonio nursing home has been hit hard by coronavirus in a case that serves as a sobering reminder of just how much damage the disease can cause.
At the Southeast Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 14 people were infected with coronavirus on Wednesday. By Thursday, it had emerged that 66 residents there tested positive for COVID-19; five people from the facility have passed away from the illness so far, many of whom were elderly with underlying health conditions.
The facility counts 84 residents in total, so the fact that 66 have tested positive means that more than three fourths of them have the disease. Two residents’ tests were inconclusive, and 11 tested negative. At least six employees of the facility have also tested positive. Officials are now tracing the movements of those employees in an attempt to determine whether they might have carried the virus into other places.
According to the San Antonio Express-News, the nursing home does not meet federal standards governing health inspections and staffing levels. They were recently cited for a failure to follow proper infection control procedures as well as the medical negligence of a resident. Moreover, the home was given the lowest score possible of one out of five stars for its performance by federal regulators.
The facility was cited in October after a pair of nursing assistants failed to wash their hands after they cleaned a resident’s rectal area and then patted the resident dry using a contaminated towel. They also improperly stored a resident’s oxygen tubing, which could have put others at the facility at a risk of respiratory infection.
The city is now paying closer attention to care homes with poor track records to make sure they are not putting their residents at risk during this very dangerous outbreak. Officials have been monitoring the ambulance traffic at nursing homes in the area following a coronavirus outbreak at a facility in Washington that killed dozens of people.
At the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington, the virus infected around two thirds of residents as well as dozens of staff members. At least 35 deaths related to coronavirus have been linked to the facility, which is now facing fines of more than $611,000 related to serious problems such as a lack of emergency physician services and failing to notify public health authorities in a timely manner.
San Antonio has now reached a period where community spread has surpassed transmission from travel, which means extra vigilance is warranted among residents. On Monday, Mayor Ron Nirenberg announced that 456 people in the city have now tested positive, while the number of deaths is currently at 12.
He added that the city recommends people wear protective masks if they have to go out in public and social distancing is not possible. They’ve been asked to wear cloth masks to leave hard-to-obtain N95 or medical masks for the first responders who need them more.
The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, meanwhile, has announced that an entire class of sheriff’s deputies who graduated last week and were scheduled to begin work on Saturday has been placed on administrative leave after one of the deputies in the class tested positive for coronavirus.
Epidemiologists have said that the San Antonio area could see a surge in patient volumes in May or early June, and the virus could take months to abate after that. Bexar County is also voting on extending the “Stay Home, Work Safe” orders until at least April 30.
Anyone who hasn’t gotten on board yet with social distancing and other safety measures, regardless of where they live, only needs to look at how quickly this disease is spreading and killing people in close quarters like care homes to see just how risky their behavior is.
Sources for this article include: