Coronavirus cases increase in skilled nursing facilities in Riverside County

Riverside County health officials announced today that there are more than 650 confirmed coronavirus cases among the patients and staff of nursing homes and assisted living facilities across the county.

The majority of patient cases, 414, are among 40 of the skilled nursing facilities in the county, stated a Riverside County news release. Additionally, 49 total patient cases are at 14 assisted living locations. There are hundreds of other long-term care facilities with varying levels of care provided. The county has tested approximately 1,200 patients at these facilities. There are 211 staff members who have tested positive for coronavirus among skilled nursing and assisted living facilities

“We have known since the beginning of this response that congregate care facilities would provide one of the biggest challenges,” said Riverside County Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari.

The county responded to the challenges by forming four SOS (Skilled Nursing Facilities + Outreach Support) teams who have reached out to most of the facilities to support their efforts. “We also have teams that have helped out with some staffing when it was appropriate,” Saruwatari said.

The four SOS teams consist of workers from American Medical Response, behavioral health, and other healthcare partners who could be involved in patient care. The teams target specific regions in the county and work with staff members at each facility to demonstrate proper safety techniques, provide proper safety gear, and educate them about coronavirus to dispel rumors and correct erroneous information.

“I am very proud of our county public health leadership and rapid coordinated efforts within our local skilled nursing facilities,” said Board Chair V. Manuel Perez, Fourth District Supervisor. “In agreement with the governor’s six principles, we must do all we can to provide care and protection to our most vulnerable. I also look forward to working with the state to ensure cost recovery for our heavily impacted budget.”

As of Sunday, the SOS teams have visited 144 facilities and done follow up visits with 10. Rehabilitation facilities and nursing homes present a challenge for health officials due to the age and health conditions of the residents, as well as their close proximity to each other. The county said it prioritizes investigations in these facilities due to the high risk of serious illness that outbreaks pose.


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