The number of deaths from COVID-19 has grown to 13 in Stanislaus County, with seven of those coming from former and current residents at the Turlock Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.
Sixty-seven residents and 30 staff members at TNRC have tested positive for the coronavirus and 37 residents and staff have been given negative test results. Some results were inconclusive and those individuals will have to be re-tested.
“The loss of life and significant level of COVID-19 infections that has occurred in the facility has brought the global pandemic to our doorstep,” said Turlock Mayor Amy Bublak. “It is heartbreaking to experience this loss in our community and we must continue to be diligent in our social distancing efforts and personal responsibility to stop the spread by staying home as much as possible. I cannot say it enough, please wash your hands, practice social distancing, and wear face coverings when out in public."
The City of Turlock has completed an assessment of other local assisted living facilities and nursing homes to supplement the work being taken by the local and state health departments. The City conducted phone calls and site visits to ensure safety measures were in practice. In a news release, the City said the "local facilities have taken the health and safety guidance seriously and applied the necessary protocols and safety procedures appropriately."
“The efforts of staff of the skilled nursing facilities in Turlock are truly appreciated and we continue to support their efforts, adherence and response to the pandemic," said Turlock Vice Mayor Andrew Nosrati.
It remains a question as to how the outbreak began at TNRC, but Turlock resident Ron Bridegroom said he was at the facility in late March when a potential exposure was reported to the center.
Bridegroom suffered a stroke on March 23 and was taken to Doctors Medical Center in Modesto. He was discharged from the hospital to the care of TNRC on March 26. Bridegroom said he was checked in that afternoon and was in a shared room. On the morning of March 27, Bridegroom said a nurse came in and gave him and his roommate face masks that they were told they had to wear. The pair also was told they would be moved to another room, but were not told why.
"A little while later another nurse came in and she was in a mask, gloves and gown and I really started to wonder what was going on," Bridegroom said.
The two men were moved to another area of the facility. Bridegroom believes it was the area where long-term residents are housed. He said they were told to stay in the room and keep the door closed. He said he spent a very restless night without any explanation for the move, and the next day he contacted a caretaker and checked himself out of the facility.
"It was a little bit before I left when a young man came into our room — I believe he was a manager of some sort — and when I asked him why we had been moved and isolated he looked at me with a surprised look and said it was because they had been told that my roommate had potentially been exposed to someone with COVID-19 while at Emanuel Medical Center," Bridegroom recounted.
Bridegroom has been self-isolating at home with the assistance of caretakers since leaving the facility. He said he wasn't surprised to hear of the outbreak at the center, because he saw first-hand that there was a lack of personal protective equipment for the staff.
"It was very clear that they were not prepared," Bridegroom said.
In the wake of the outbreak, Turlock Nursing and Rehabilitation Center has implemented new measures to try and protect staff and residents. A wing of the facility is being used to isolate the residents who have tested positive for the virus and another wing is being used for the residents that have tested negative. The center also is continuing to screen staff and essential medical personnel upon entry to the facility and fully outfitting them with personal protective equipment as appropriate for their respective duties. An onsite incident commander will be at the site 24 hours a day, seven days a week to address any immediate needs.
The biggest change the center is making is a suspension of admissions and discharges for a 14-day quarantine period in accordance with local and state health department guidance.
"Providing for the safety and well-being of our residents and staff remains our paramount priority," the center wrote on their website. "We are following all guidance set forth for privacy, patient care, employee safety and efforts to help limit the spread of COVID-19, as provided by the California Department of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
"We especially wish to commend our staff for their continued commitment to the care of our residents, particularly given the risks to their own health and that of their families. We truly are family serving families."
Stanislaus County currently has 380 positive COVID-19 cases and 13 total deaths. Eighty-two people have been hospitalized and 248 people have recovered, according to the SCHSA.
There currently are 27 people hospitalized with either a confirmed case of COVID-19 or a suspected case. Of those, eight are in intensive care unit beds.
SCHSA reported the county has 56 percent of the hospital beds available, 37 percent of the ICU beds available and 81 percent of the ventilators available for use.
There have been 5,795 tests conducted in Stanislaus County and 5,415 have come back negative.
Modesto has 104 reported cases, followed by 100 in Turlock, 39 in Ceres, and 38 in Patterson. Stanislaus County District 5 has 23 cases and District 3 has 18 cases. Riverbank has 12 cases, Newman 11 and District 2 has nine. District 1 has seven cases, as does Waterford. Oakdale has six cases and Hughson has five cases.
Individuals 20 years old or younger make up 5 percent of the cases in Stanislaus County. Those between the ages of 21 years to 30 years represent 10 percent of the cases. People between the ages of 31 years to 40 years and those from 41 years to 50 years each make up 21 percent of the cases. Individuals between 51 years to 60 years represent 20 percent of the cases and those from 61 to 70 years are 10 percent of the cases. People from 71 years to 80 years represent 8 percent of the cases and those 81 years to 90 years account for 4 percent of the cases. Those 91 years and older make up 1 percent of the cases.
The cases are split 50/50 among men and women.
SCHSA is planning on releasing more details about the individuals who have died from COVID-19, including age and gender in the coming week. Deaths are attributed to COVID-19 if the person has tested positive for the virus, regardless of other health conditions. For example, if a person tested positive for COVID-19 but also has congestive heart failure, the cause of death would be COVID-19, with the heart failure as a contributing factor.
Stanislaus county will be expanding testing in to the community next week through a partnership with the State of California. The state has contracted Optum testing to set up testing sites around the state, two of which will be in Stanislaus County — one in Keyes and one in Patterson. Once the new testing is operative, the criteria for getting a test is expected to be expanded to fit more of the public, not just those at high-risk. Appointments will still need to be made in advance.
The SCHSA is currently partnered with Verily's Baseline COVID-19 Program to offer drive-through testing to residents. The testing is not just open to anyone arriving at the site. Residents can screen their symptoms and, if eligible, can make an appointment for testing at the Salida Library online by using the Baseline COVID-19 Program online screener and appointment scheduling system found at www.projectbaseline.com/COVID19.
This program is first focusing on high-risk populations as advised by national guidelines.
California's testing requirements prioritize healthcare workers, first responders and other social service employees, symptomatic individuals age 65 and older and symptomatic individuals with chronic medical conditions, individuals who are tested as part of disease control efforts in high-risk settings, asymptomatic residents and employees of congregate living facilities when needed to prevent disease transmission, symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals in essential occupations such as grocery store and food supply workers, utility workers and public employees and other persons with symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
The California Department of Public Health announced on Friday the state now has 50,442 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 2,073 deaths.
As Stanislaus County Public Health continues to work with the Emergency Operation Center in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic locally, it is critical that individuals and organizations take critical steps in slowing the spread of the virus by following all applicable guidance and recommendations, including:
· Practice social distancing which means stay at least 6 feet away from others.
· Avoid ALL non-essential activities that involve close contact with the general public
· Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol for at least 20 seconds
· Limit close contact with people who are sick. Try to stay at least 6 feet away from someone who is sick
· Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
· Do not share objects such as utensils, cups, food, and drink
People can receive updates about COVID-19 in Stanislaus County by texting STANCOVID19 (all caps) to 888777 to receive updates from the Stanislaus County Office of Emergency Services.