WALNUT CREEK (CBS SF) — Contra Costa County health officials announced Friday that a coronavirus outbreak at a 47-bed senior care facility in Orinda has resulted in 27 people testing positive.
Officials said the outbreak has not resulted in any deaths so far. Two residents of the Orinda Care Facility have been hospitalized with severe symptoms and three staff members were under home quarantine. County health officer Dr. Chris Farnitano said the other 22 residents who have tested positive for the virus have been isolated inside the facility and were being treated by separate medical care personnel.
Contra Costa County Health Services said Friday it began investigating this week after two staff members working at the facility sought medical care. Test results for the two workers as well as two patients came back positive late Wednesday, according to county health services. All patients and staff were tested on Thursday and, while results continue to return, 24 residents and three staff members have tested positive so far, the county said.
“We’re all very concerned,” Dr. Farnitano said. “We’re all worried. Almost half of the cases are over 80 years old and we know that, with COVID-19, the mortality and the seriousness of the illness is very much related to age.”
Farnitano added that all the residents had been tested with 14 coming back negative for the illness. Other test results were pending.
“Unfortunately this does not come as a surprise,” Farnitano said of an outbreak in a senior care facility. “This is something we’ve been worried about and preparing for for quite some time.”
If additional staff members test positive and were asymptomatic, they would continue to treat the residents who have tested positive. If staffers are required to quarantine, county health will aid with staffing.
“We are providing the option, in order to maintain adequate staffing, if there are any staff that test positive but remain healthy, that they could continue to come back to work as long as they follow strict guidelines to only work with the positive test residents,” he said.
“It is probably a practice that may become more common as more cases occur, because we are very concerned about our healthcare workforce. We know that if somebody tests positive, if they are working with positive patients, that they themselves are not at additional risk of acquiring infection.”
All the senior residents are in isolation in their rooms. There are no plans to relocate seniors who have tested negative. Health officials said most rooms at the facility have two beds. Those who tested positive are sharing rooms.
“Residents that have tested negative, we are separating them from the ones that tested positive within the facility. This is their home. And they have the staff there that can care for them,” Dr. Farnitano explained.
Officials said they were also investigating reports at other senior care facilities within the county, but would not divulge the names or locations of those facilities.
At least four other senior care facilities in the San Francisco Bay Area have had outbreaks of the illness.
In San Francisco at the city’s sprawling Laguna Honda senior facility, 10 staff members and two residents have tested positive for the virus. They were all reportedly doing well on Thursday.
Two residents died and three others hospitalized in an outbreak at the Atria Senior Living facility in Burlingame.
At San Jose’s Canyon Springs Post-Acute Care center, six residents and staffers have tested positive for the virus and another 24 were being monitored for the illness.
And in Palo Alto, The Vi complex — located on Sand Hill Road near the Stanford Shopping Center — has confirmed they had two residents test positive for the disease.
Despite news of the outbreak in Orinda Friday, Farnitano urged people not to consider taking their loved ones out of senior care facilities.
“Viruses don’t have wings and they don’t have legs. And if we move patients who are positive from facility to facility, home to home, we give hem legs,’ he said. “So our goal here is to isolate in place and that is very consistent with our Bay Area health officer, state health officer directives.”
There have been 276 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Contra Costa County since the outbreak began in the Bay Area in January. Of those, 24 were announced on Thursday.
The county has had three deaths and there were currently 31 residents being treated at local hospitals with those numbers climbing every day.
County health officials have been anticipating an even larger patient surge coming soon over the next few weeks. On Thursday, federal and county health officials began setting up an emergency medical station at Richmond’s Craneway Pavilion.
Once it’s completely built, the Craneway facility will be able to handle 250 COVID-19 patients. Hospitals would still get the severe cases; the old Ford Richmond Plant would be more of a triage ward for those with mild symptoms.
Beds and medical supplies were being brought in by the National Guard this week. The goal was to have the facility ready to receive patients by the third week of April, when health experts predict the Bay Area will see COVID-19 cases begin to peak.
“This is one more step to be better prepared for the anticipated COVID-19 surge,” said Candace Andersen, Chair of the Board of Supervisors. “We are very grateful for the cooperation of so many private and public entities that are making their venues available to serve the health needs of our community in this unprecedented crisis.”