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October 26, 2020

Watsonville nursing facility sees 27 Covid-19 cases

WATSONVILLE—A total of 27 residents and six staff members of Watsonville Post Acute Center have tested positive for Covid-19 since July 19, and the facility has enacted several safety and infection protocols to try to combat the virus’ spread.

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The most recent cases—two patients—were announced Wednesday. 

The patients are being kept in isolation, and the employees are in self-isolation at home until cleared by a physician to return to work, facility manager Gerald Hunter said in a post on the company’s website

“The facility continues to work with Public Health and other governmental agencies to ensure the safety of both residents and staff,” he wrote.

Santa Cruz County Health Officer Gail Newel during a Thursday morning press conference called the number of cases “a very significant and worrisome outbreak.”

It is unclear how the outbreak started, Newel said. But she did say it was likely started by an employee, since residents typically do not leave.

The center, Newel added, was following all necessary cleaning and safety protocols.

“From everything we’ve seen, they were doing everything possible to prevent this type of outbreak and following all of the guidelines,” she said.

Also at the press conference, Newel announced the county’s ninth Covid-19-related death, this one a Latinx woman in her 60s. County officials are waiting for confirmation that an additional two deaths were caused by the virus, Newel said.

The county now has 2,319 Covid-19 cases, 306 of which are active. A total of 2,000 people have recovered, and 149 required hospitalization, Newel said.

Santa Cruz County kept its place in the red tier on California’s four-tier system, and will stay there for at least another two weeks, Newel said. The less restrictive tier allows some businesses and schools to reopen.

Hunter announced on Sept. 18 that two patients had tested positive, and four days later that number jumped to 25. The first cases—two employees—were announced on July 19. On Aug. 4 an additional employee that did not work with patients also tested positive.

Health Department Director Mimi Hall stressed that the public should keep following Covid-19 and social distancing guidelines.

“We cannot be complacent as public,” she said. 

The possibility of a vaccine, Hall added, is not “the magic bullet.”

“It takes a lot of action on behalf of every single person in our community to do what we’ve been asking all of these months: to take these precautions that ensure that we are reducing the risk of transmission and exposure,” Hall said.

For information on the nursing home outbreak, visit watsonvillepostacute.com or email [email protected]

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