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October 21, 2020

Nine residents have died with Covid-19 at Watsonville nursing facility

Update (3:45pm, Oct. 7)

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Santa Cruz County health officials announced Wednesday that five more residents of Watsonville Nursing Center and Post Acute Center have either died from Covid-19 or died with Covid-19 listed as a contributing cause, bringing the death toll at the skilled nursing facility to nine.

Forty-six residents and 15 staff have tested positive for Covid-19, Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency spokeswoman Corinne Hyland said in a press release.

Hyland in the press release said CDPH officials have conducted multiple site visits to provide assessments and recommendations to the facility’s management. She also said that County health officials are working with the facility on a daily basis to review protocols on isolation, quarantine, testing and screening, as well as resource requests for staff and supplies critical to resolving the outbreak.

The California National Guard is also providing staffing support.

“Watsonville Post-Acute informed CDPH and the County as soon as the first resident tested positive,” County Deputy Health Officer David Ghilarducci said. “Our staff is focused on the outbreak and we will continue to work closely with WPA.”


Previous story (10am, Oct. 7)

WATSONVILLE—Two more Santa Cruz County residents have died of Covid-19, the county announced Tuesday. 

One person was a Latino in his late 70s, for whom the novel coronavirus was a contributing factor in his death. The other person was a Latina in her mid-80s. Covid-19 was the primary cause of her death.

The deaths bring the county’s death toll to 14.

Both people were patients at the Watsonville Nursing Center and Post Acute Center, the county said in a tweet. A total of 46 residents and 15 staff members of the skilled nursing facility (SNF) have tested positive for Covid-19, Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency spokeswoman Corinne Hyland said in an emailed statement Tuesday. 

According to a statement from administrator Gerald E. Hunter posted to the facility’s website Monday, there are currently 27 active Covid-19 cases—23 residents and four staff members. Nine residents were moved out of the facility’s “Covid unit” Oct. 2.

“Each day we evaluate all of our residents following [California Department of Public Health] and County of Santa Cruz guidelines to determine whom meets the criteria to be transferred out of the unit,” Hunter said in the statement. “This is a positive first step in reducing the number (of) positive cases in the facility.”

As an SNF, Watsonville Nursing Center and Post Acute Care is not alone in its numbers of Covid-19 cases.

The CDPH, which oversees 1,223 SNFs throughout the state, on Tuesday reported that there were 463 new cases among patients reported at facilities statewide on April 29, and 91 new deaths. That dropped to 52 new cases on Oct. 2, and 11 deaths.

Most of the deaths occurred in people 80 and older, CDPH Secretary Mark Ghaly said in a public videoconference Tuesday.

“Although there is some encouragement, we know we still have work to do,” he said. 

As of Wednesday, there were a total of 26,313 patient cases of Covid-19 in SNFs, and 4,522 deaths related to the virus since it began its worldwide spread, according to the CDPH website.

A total of 19,847 healthcare workers have tested positive, and 151 have died.

Ghaly said that, of 229,000 tests conducted at skilled nursing facilities statewide, 7% of patients have been positive for Covid-19 and 2.9% of workers have tested positive.

The positive tests, he said, spark a broader protocol of testing and safety measures.  

“For every facility that comes up with a positive test, we’re committed to having broad-scale testing in that facility to make sure we continue to detect cases that might be asymptomatic or unknown until we’re confident that there’s no cases at that facility,” he said.

In addition to testing, the facilities are also subject to onsite visits every six weeks. 

The CDPH’s Center for Health Care Quality has staff available daily to answer questions from SNFs and respond to requests for resources such as personal protective equipment.

That agency also hosts weekly calls that average more than 1,700 facility participants, and has trained 600 evaluator nurses to help SNFs provide infection control education during onsite visits.

CDPH also deploys “strike teams” to help with containing and mitigating outbreaks at facilities, the agency states on its website.

These teams include health facility evaluator nurses, infection control specialists, and staff from local health departments. CDPH’s Center for Health Care Quality has deployed strike teams to over 400 SNFs since the pandemic began.

There have been 2,527 known Covid-19 cases in Santa Cruz County, of which 287 are known active cases, according to information last updated Monday by county health officials

Statewide as of Sunday, there have been 826,784 Covid-19 cases and 16,149 deaths, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Editor’s note: Editor Tony Nuñez contributed to this report.

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