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Infected staff at nursing home with 75 COVID-19 patients worked at other San Antonio facilities

SAFD: Two sick staff members worked at other facilities in community

SAN ANTONIO – “In case anyone in San Antonio needed a wake-up call about the seriousness of COVID-19 to our community, this is it,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said as he started Friday’s briefing on the COVID-19 outbreak at a local nursing home.

The mayor said that 67 of the 84 residents at Southeast Nursing & Rehabilitation on Southcross have tested positive for COVID-19. One of those residents passed away earlier this week, marking the ninth death connected to the virus in Bexar County.

Eight of the 60 staff members at Southeast Nursing & Rehabilitation have tested positive and are in self-isolation away from the facility, San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood said.

“Of the eight staff members who are COVID positive, we know that two of them worked in other facilities," Hood said. “And the staff members who have not been tested, we know they worked in at least 7 facilities in the city. That number is going to grow as we interview staff members.”

RELATED: These are the long-term care facilities being monitored for COVID-19 outbreaks in San Antonio

Metro Health will test 17 other staff members at the nursing home today, and health officials are still trying to contact 28 of the staff members for testing. City officials urged any nursing home facility worker who feels sick to stay home.

“We need to know where shared staff are occurring,” Metro Health Director Dr. Dawn Emerick said.

Metro Health will test 17 other staff members at the nursing home today, and health officials are still trying to contact 28 of the staff members for testing. City officials urged any nursing home facility worker who feels sick to stay home.

RELATED: Facility connected to nursing home with deadly COVID-19 outbreak now under investigation in San Antonio

Eleven residents have tested negative so far and are being kept in a separate part of the building and are being cared for by a different staff than sick residents.

Health officials are sending notices to every nursing home, jail and care facility in the city asking them to document every facility where their staff works.

Mayor Nirenberg said he is adding to his emergency order a clause that would prohibit nursing home staff from working in multiple facilities.

“It’s here, it’s deadly. Stay home and don’t help the virus spread,” Nirenberg said.

RELATED: Southeast Nursing & Rehabilitation Center was fined $60,000, cited for 28 violations in 2019

Emerick went even further, saying that even people who are asymptomatic are adding to the spread of COVID-19.

“Let me be very clear about this. We are experiencing community spread,” Emerick said. “Even if you don’t have any symptoms, behave as if you do."

In a statement sent after the news conference, a city spokesperson outlined the next steps in the response:

"To follow the Stay Home Work Safe orders issued by the Mayor, Judge and Governor, all nursing homes should be restricting access to everyone except staff and family in end-of-life circumstances. No unnecessary visitors should enter nursing homes.

"All nursing homes should have canceled group activities and communal food services. Staff at every nursing home should follow Centers for Disease Control (CDC) protocols for sanitizing surfaces, washing hands, and maintaining safe distances.

"Finally, there should not be any sick personnel at nursing facilities. Staff who are not feeling well should stay home or go home. Do not risk spreading the illness in the facility. If staff at these facilities feel they have been exposed to COVID-19 and are experiencing symptoms should call MedCom at 210-233-5970.

“The San Antonio Fire Department and the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District are visiting all 34 of the lowest rated nursing homes in the community to conduct facility assessments in each of them, which includes evaluating their infection control and environmental health procedures. Finally, the SAFD will visit all 68 nursing homes in the area again to notify them of the process for EMS transports from their facilities. To transport a patient, they must first contact MedCom. In addition, the City will remind nursing homes of proper procedures to minimize the risk of an outbreak.”

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.

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