HAYWARD (CBS SF) — As Alameda County health officials reported a growing outbreak of coronavirus infections at two senior care facilities in Hayward and Castro Valley, families of employees who tested positive alleged they were told to return to work.
Health officials on Wednesday confirmed new infections among staff and residents at Gateway Care & Rehabilitation Center in Hayward and East Bay Post-Acute Healthcare Center in Castro Valley, leading to six deaths.
Gateway currently has 59 people infected with COVID-19, 35 residents and 24 staff, according to Alameda County Public Health Department spokesman Neetu Balram. Six of those infected residents have died.
Two men in protective gear who say they work for a mortuary just went into the Gateway Care and Rehab Center in Hayward. Alameda Co. officials report six residents have died here due to the coronavirus. A total of 59 tested positive for COVID-19: 35 residents and 24 staffers. pic.twitter.com/bPOWow5E6s
— Joe Vazquez (@joenewsman) April 9, 2020
East Bay Post-Acute currently has nine residents and 17 staff members who have contracted the novel coronavirus, said Balram.
Two men told KPIX 5 that their wives, both staffers at Gateway who tested positive for COVID-19, were told by their bosses that they had to come back to work.
Dinesh Kumar alleged his wife’s supervisor told her she could return to work even after testing positive and warned her repeatedly she would be fined if she didn’t return to work.
“My wife got diagnosed positive and she’s now fully isolated at home and I’m taking care of her,” said Kumar. “After she got diagnosed positive the employer called. A supervisor told my wife, ‘Oh you can still come to work.’ I said, ‘No we’ve been told you’re supposed to be isolated.'”
In addition, Kumar alleged the management told employees they did not need to wear masks on the job unless they were sick.
Guadalupe Tafolla told a similar story. “They told my wife, ‘You can come back to work. Just have to wear a mask and be careful,'” Tafolla said. “She’s positive! Of course, she’s never going to come back to work.”
Neither Gateway nor East Bay Post-Acute immediately returned phone calls asking for comment as of Wednesday afternoon.
COMPLETE COVERAGE: CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
Health officials announced the outbreak on Tuesday, originally saying 12 healthcare professionals and nine patients at the center had tested positive. One of the patients had been hospitalized while the other eight were isolated at the center. The infected staff members were isolating at home with mild symptoms.
Balram said Wednesday the new infection count among the two care centers may be updated and should be considered a “point-in-time” count.
“They’re not just residents here. They’re somebody’s grandmother, somebody’s mother,” said Jaime Patino. He is a Union City councilmember and the grandson of a resident at Gateway, and he says his family was told his grandmother was healthy, but no one at the facility said anything about the number of coronavirus cases. He wants answers.
“The protocols put in place by the CDC and state officials is they do not come in if they test positive. So that’s ridiculous!” Patino said.
County health officials have established a task force to work on containment strategies at nursing homes where COVID-19 cases have been confirmed and to conduct outreach with other facilities to implement infection control and prevention procedures.
Guidance and resources for long-term care facilities is available on the Alameda County website at http://www.acphd.org/2019-ncov/resources/skilled-nursing-residential-care-facilities.aspx.