Yolo County officials are working with affected facilities to control the spread of COVID-19
Due to a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases, Yolo County re-entered the purple tier on Nov. 16. The long-term care facilities in the county are of special concern, as they house some of its most vulnerable citizens, according to Yolo County Public Information Officer Jenny Tan.
“These facilities house a lot of really vulnerable and high-risk residents, and so we’ve been working with them since the beginning of COVID about treating, mitigation and really thinking about limiting who comes in on the facilities,” Tan said.
Riverbend Nursing Facility in West Sacramento is the second long-term care facility in Yolo County to experience a second outbreak. The facility experienced a small outbreak of five cases in July. As of Nov. 25, it has reported 56 cases and one COVID-19 related death, with their latest case reported on Nov. 24.
The first long-term care facility in Yolo County to experience a second outbreak was Alderson Convalescent Hospital in Woodland, which has seen 104 cases and 18 deaths as of Nov. 25.
Riverbend is not the only facility currently experiencing an outbreak; Cottonwood Post-Acute Rehab in Woodland has reported 65 cases and two COVID-19 related deaths. As of Nov. 25, their latest case was reported on Nov. 24.
Tan explained how Yolo County is working with the facilities to prevent further spread of disease.
“We essentially become a part of their procedures and their staff to help prepare them and help them with the outbreak as much as we can,” Tan said. “We go through all their procedures and practices; we go over their testing plan and a schedule for staff. We also make sure they have all of the supplies that they need and that they are trained in how to use those supplies, such as gloves, masks and scrubs.”
These outbreaks usually originate from sources outside of the facility, added Tan.
“COVID-19 comes because someone brings it into the site,” Tan said. “Sometimes, it can be from a staff member, sometimes it can be from a vendor, sometimes you have people who temporarily live there and leave.”
City of Woodland Mayor Pro Tempore Tom Stallard added that keeping long-term care facility residents safe requires a herculean effort.
“It’s very very challenging to [the care facility] when the workforce comes in,” Stallard said. “Only one person has to have contracted the problem, and then they can transmit to everybody. The seniors can’t go anywhere, and they’re all in close proximity. So I don’t see any fault or blame; I just think that they do the best they can and inevitably at some point in time, they have a problem.”
Tan emphasized that not all COVID-19-related deaths are occurring in nursing homes.
“I think the public has the perception that all of the people who die are older, or all the people who die are at nursing facilities, and that’s not the case,” Tan said. “Yes, it’s a little more than half [of COVID-19-related deaths in Yolo County in long-term care facilities], but it’s not everyone. People who are not elderly are still dying of COVID-19.”
The nursing homes—while a matter of great concern—are not the primary drivers of the case count in Yolo County, according to Tan. She listed three main causes of the rising case count: social gatherings, work exposures and household exposures.
Tan added that working together to decrease the case count will be essential.
“We’ll probably be in [the purple tier] for the next three or four weeks,” Tan said. “We’re definitely seeing a surge of cases from Halloween, and then depending on what happens through Thanksgiving break, we may stay in purple longer. I think it’s best for people to buckle in and expect to be in purple for a while.”
City of Davis Councilmember Dan Carson also discussed the importance of collaborating to move forward.
“It’s a countywide rule for what tier we’re in,” Carson said. “They don’t look at one sub-area of the county versus another. So we all have to do well if we’re ever going to move into a lower tier and be able to open up.”
Written by: Rachel Shey — firstname.lastname@example.org