COVID-19 outbreak at San Antonio nursing home: 14 confirmed cases, 1 death, 70+ tests pending

8 residents, 6 workers test positive for new coronavirus

SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Fire Department and San Antonio Metropolitan Health District announced a COVID-19 outbreak at a local nursing home on Wednesday.

Chief Charles Hood said Wednesday afternoon that 12 people had tested positive for COVID-19 at the Southeast Nursing & Rehabilitation Center at 4302 Southcross, including six staff members and eight residents. At least one male resident has died as a result.

All of the residents have been tested and city officials were waiting on the results of more than 70 tests, Hood said at the briefing. The chief said he hoped to get the results within 48 hours, and that the remaining staff members would also be tested.

During his daily briefing alongside Judge Nelson Wolff a few hours later, Mayor Ron Nirenberg announced there were now eight infections among residents, raising the total number of cases from 12 to 14. A San Antonio Metropolitan Health District spokeswoman confirmed the new positive cases, but said they would not be included in the city’s tally until numbers are updated on Thursday.

The nursing home said in a statement that five of the staff members were certified nurse assistants, and the sixth was a contract Speech Language Pathologist who had worked at the location.

Hood said one of the deaths that was reported yesterday in San Antonio was a resident at the nursing home.

In all of Bexar County, there have been 231 cases and 9 deaths, as of Wednesday evening.

Hood said they had noticed a surge in hospital transports from the facility - about five or six in a 12-hour period, which alerted health officials to respond quickly. The chief said the system worked just like it should.

If we see high numbers coming out of a nursing home, we’re going to aggressively look at that nursing home,” Hood said.

The department has instructed the facility on proper cleaning and sterilization, Hood said, and staff have been given one week’s worth of proper personal protective equipment.

“Our staff and residents are following the recommended preventative actions, we have been restricting visitors from entering our facility for over three weeks, and canceled all group activities within the building as well,” the nursing home said in a statement.

According to state records, Southeast Nursing & Rehabilitation Center was cited for 28 violations during its last inspection in Oct. 2019.

Jaivon Cuffin and his mother, Tanaya, were at the nursing home Wednesday to visit with his 64-year-old grandmother, who was marking her birthday today. The pair could only visit with her through an outside window.

“They didn’t call us,” said Tanaya Cuffin, who added the nursing home had only alerted them to the first case.

Jaivon Cuffin said his grandmother wasn’t wearing a mask and is trying to practice social distancing in her room with her roommate.

“I was confused, too, that she had no mask on,” Cuffin said.

“There’s nothing much we can do about it. All we can do is just pray and hope things get better.”

Hood said there are 68 nursing home facilities in San Antonio. He said the city has no plans to take over any nursing home facilities, but will monitor and provide support.

“Knowing that these nursing facilities are a very vulnerable population, we have been prepared to respond and mitigate any potential COVID-19 outbreak within a nursing facility since the events at the Life Care facility in Kirkland, WA,” said Hood.

“Metro Health and the San Antonio Fire Department worked with the facility’s staff to train them on proper deep cleaning and sterilization of the facility. We hope these proactive measures will ultimately reduce the number of people who contract COVID-19 and will equip staff with the ability and resources to care for their patients,” said Metro Health Director Dr. Dawn Emerick.

The nursing home released the following statement:

"We are doing everything we can to ensure we stop any further spread of the COVID-19 virus within our facility. This is a global pandemic that has affected not only our facility but hundreds of thousands of people around the globe including almost 200,000 in the United States as of today.

"We are in very close communication with local and state health officials to ensure we are taking the appropriate steps at this time. The city of San Antonio health officials have been extremely helpful to our facility and we cannot thank them enough. Our staff and residents are following the recommended preventative actions, we have been restricting visitors from entering our facility for over three weeks, and canceled all group activities within the building as well per the guidance from CDC, CMS and HHSC as well as local health department authorities.

“Currently, the facility has received confirmation that six of our residents and five C.N.A.’s have tested positive for COVID-19. There was also one contract Speech Language Pathologist that test positive as well that had worked in our facility. Resident health and safety is a top priority for Southeast Nursing and Rehab. Every resident should have a clean, safe living environment. We agree that the spread of this novel virus is a critical issue that requires our immediate attention, which we have done for the past 3 weeks.”

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.


About the Authors

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.

Julie Moreno has worked in local television news for more than 25 years. She came to KSAT as a news producer in 2000. After producing thousands of newscasts, she transitioned to the digital team in 2015. She writes on a wide variety of topics from breaking news to trending stories and manages KSAT’s daily digital content strategy.

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