71 residents and 41 healthcare workers test positive for virus at Visalia skilled nursing facility
By Reggie Ellis
VISALIA – Six elderly residents have died from an outbreak of COVID-19 at a Visalia nursing home, as of press time.
The outbreak began on April 1 when the Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) announced that six patients and two healthcare professionals at the Redwood Springs Healthcare Center, located at 1925 E. Houston in Visalia, tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Three of the facility’s deaths happened on April 7, then a fourth on April 9, another on April 10 and a sixth person on April 12. All of the residents were over the age of 65 and all contracted the virus through person to person contact.
“We offer our sincere condolences to the friends and families who lost their loved ones due to COVID-19,” Tulare County Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Haught said. “Tulare County Public Health continues to assist Redwood Springs facility with supplies, resources, and guidance.”
As of Monday, April 13, 71 of the facility’s 153 patients had tested positive for the coronavirus. Eight residents with the virus are being treated at a local hospital. Forty-one of the facility’s 150-member staff have tested positive for the virus. Anita Hubbard, administrator at Redwood Springs, said every resident and staff member at the facility is being tested.
“We are also receiving staffing support from Tulare County and State Public Health along with two area hospitals, Kaweah Delta and Adventist,” Hubbard said. “This collaborative effort will support our collective efforts to care for the well-being of everyone in our facility. We’re grateful to our dedicated team whose service and sacrifices enable us to fight this pandemic.”
The 112 cases at Redwood Springs represent nearly half of the deaths and total cases in Tulare County, which totaled 13 and 264, and nearly three quarters of the cases in Visalia, which stood at 156 as of press time.
The outbreak is similar to the start of the virus on the West Coast on Feb. 28 when 81 residents, 34 staff members, and 14 visitors contracted the virus at a skilled nursing facility in Seattle. In that case, 23 people died.
Family members of residents at the facility are encouraged to communicate with their loved ones via phone and video conferencing. For more information, call Redwood Springs at 559-732-1020.
The COVID-19 infection can be transmitted from person to person via airborne droplets such as coughing or sneezing. It is highly contagious and characterized by either mild cold-like symptoms, or it can be a more severe lung infection with a fever.
The Public Health Branch asks community members to follow the governor’s stay-at-home order to “flatten the curve” and slow the spread of COVID-19. This, and social distancing when you must go out for essential services such as grocery shopping, is the best way to avoid COVID-19. Cloth or other facemasks and coverings may help to reduce COVID-19 transmission by those who may be infected but are not showing symptoms yet. Even with the addition of a facemask, community members need to remain six feet or more away from others when out for essential services.
The above guidance serves to help protect yourself from COVID-19 in addition to good health hygiene, such as washing hands, covering coughs/sneezes, remaining home when ill, avoiding other sick people, and frequently washing surfaces with regular home cleaners.
“This virus spreads quickly, so the most important thing you can do is stay home to prevent the spread,” Dr. Haught said.
For more information about COVID-19, visit www.tchhsa.org/ncov, www.facebook.com/TulareCountyHHSA, and www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/Immunization/ncov2019.aspx.