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Central Pierce County Congregate Care facility experiences high number of COVID-19 cases

Disease has spread to 27 residents and seven employees of Gibraltar Senior Living

Post Date:04/20/2020 12:53 p.m.

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department has identified an outbreak of COVID-19 at Gibraltar Senior Living in central Pierce County. 

The facility has 27 positive cases among its 41 residents, and seven staff members have also tested positive. Four residents have been hospitalized. No COVID-19-related deaths have been reported. 

As a part of disease investigation of positive cases, the Health Department identified the first positive case in an employee on April 9. 

“Health Department disease investigators immediately contacted facility leadership to discuss monitoring staff and residents for illness, limiting visitors, supply and usage of personal protective equipment, and instructed that staff should wear a mask at all times,” said Nigel Turner, Director, Communicable Disease Control Division. “We developed a plan to test residents and staff and instructed the facility to cancel group activities, stagger meal service, and enforce social distancing,” he said. 

Disease investigators consulted with the facility throughout the day to discuss how to implement these measures on April 9. 

The Health Department confirmed the facility’s first positive case in a resident on Sunday, April 12 and attempted to contact the facility to share the information. On Monday, April 13, the Health Department identified four additional positives and reached out to the facility to further consult on testing plans. 

A private provider, Crown Health, tested most residents on Tuesday, April 14. The Health Department offered testing to remaining residents and staff on Thursday, April 16. 

On Sunday, April 19, Health Department staff requested a consultation from Department of Health’s healthcare acquired infection team. 

Since early March, the Health Department has offered COVID-19 specific consultation and resources to all long-term care facilities in the county. On March 26, the Department’s specialized teams began working in the field with high-risk facilities to support infection prevention, education, and testing if needed. Guidance includes resources such as infection prevention and personal protective equipment. 

“Those who are entrusted to take care of our senior residents have a great responsibility to protect their health and safety,” said Nigel Turner, director, Communicable Disease Division. “Using known infection prevention practices helps to reduce the likelihood of larger outbreaks. Facilities with strong infection prevention practices help reduce the risk of disease transmission,” he said. 

Of the county’s positive cases to date, 15 percent are in residents or staff from congregate care settings. Pierce County is home to approximately 500 long term care facilities, regulated by the Department of Social and Health Services.

For more information, visit www.tpchd.org/coronavirus.

About Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department: Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s mission is to protect and improve the health of all people and places in Pierce County. As part of our mission, the Health Department tackles known and emerging health risks through policy, programs and treatment to protect public health. We are one of roughly 244 accredited health departments in the country and among six in the state to have met or exceeded the Public Health Accreditation Board’s quality standards. Learn more at www.tpchd.org.

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