REDWOOD CITY (CBS SF) — Fears that the coronavirus can quickly spread among elderly people has prompted San Mateo County health authorities to ban visitors from nursing home facilities in the county.

San Mateo County Health Officer Dr. Scott Morrow issued an order barring any visitors, including family members, and non-essential personnel from licensed skilled nursing facilities in the county through May 9.

Facilities would have the discretion to grant exceptions on a case-by-case basis.

According to the order, “The virus that causes Coronavirus 2019 Disease (also known as COVID-19) places residents at long-term care facilities at high risk, especially given that visitors to such facilities may have the virus but may not have symptoms or may have mild symptoms. Such visitors can easily pass the virus on to vulnerable residents.”

The order, which applies immediately to 16 different facilities throughout the county also urges everyone in the county to practice six-foot social distancing with special emphasis to persons over 60 and those with underlying medical conditions. People were also encouraged to avoid all mass gatherings to the extent possible and working remotely if feasible.

Coronavirus infections at one Washington state elderly care facility were blamed in 19 out of the 29 deaths in the state attributed to the virus, the most of any U.S. state. COVID-19 has turned up in at least 11 elder care facilities in the Seattle area, according to health authorities.

Washington also has the most coronavirus cases, with at least 366 as of Wednesday evening.

 

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