Dozens infected, nine dead in COVID-19 outbreak at a Santa Cruz County nursing home

Coronavirus has infected dozens of residents, with nine dead, at a nursing home in Watsonville, Calif., in Santa Cruz County.
Coronavirus has infected dozens of residents, with nine dead, at a nursing home in Watsonville, Calif., in Santa Cruz County.

A skilled nursing home in Santa Cruz County is suffering a severe outbreak of COVID-19, with 61 people having tested positive and nine dead, a county health spokeswoman said Thursday.

Of the 61 infected at the Watsonville Post-Acute Center, nine were staff. All those who died were residents and ranged in age from their early 70s to 90s, said Corinne Hyland, a public information officer for the county Department of Public Health. The facility is licensed for 95 beds.

Hyland said the facility had been following state guidelines for employee testing, which exposed the outbreak. The center reported the outbreak to the county on Sept. 17 after a resident tested positive. An outbreak at a nursing home is defined as an infection in one resident. Visitors have been barred during the pandemic, she said.

“It spread pretty quickly,” Hyland said. “Unfortunately, this is a very vulnerable population.”

Dr. David Ghilarducci, deputy health officer for Santa Cruz County, said the county’s public health staff was working closely with the facility to control the outbreak.

Santa Cruz County health officials have been visiting the facility daily to review protocols on isolation, quarantine, testing and screening, and to respond to requests for more resources.

Officials from the California Department of Public Health have made multiple visits to the facility to assess the situation and make recommendations, and the California National Guard also is providing help, the county said.

Because many nursing home employees work in more than one facility, the county immediately alerted other homes of the outbreak, Hyland said. She added that the county was tracing the contacts of the infected.

“This is really a large outbreak,” Hyland said. “We haven’t seen this sort of thing in our county until now.”

The Watsonville center’s website has reported previous infections in the past but in small numbers. The website indicates that past infections have been among employees.

Gerald E. Hunter, the facility’s administrator, said on the website there were 23 residents and four staff members who were positive for the virus on Oct. 5. He said the county’s numbers reflected the total infected since the outbreak started.

“Each day we evaluate all of our residents following CDPH and County of Santa Cruz guidelines to determine whom meets the criteria to be transferred out of the unit,” said Hunter on the website. He did not immediately respond to a request for an interview.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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321 infected at garment factory in Sri Lanka

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka confirmed more than 300 garment factory workers have been infected with the coronavirus, after reporting its first community infection in two months.

The health ministry said 321 cases have been identified in the cluster as of Tuesday after the first patient was diagnosed at a hospital two days ago.

To contain the outbreak, the government imposed a curfew in two suburbs of the capital where the majority of patients live, closed schools and universities, and imposed restrictions on public transport.

For more than two months, Sri Lanka health officials have said they have prevented a community spread of the virus and that all diagnosed patients had belonged to two known clusters.

The country has reported 3,471 patients with 13 deaths. Of the total patients, 3,259 have recovered.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— Trump staged a dramatic return to the White House after leaving hospital where he received unprecedented level of care for COVID-19

— Trump’s return to the White House puts focus on people who could be further exposed if he doesn’t abide by isolation protocols

— Some survivors and kin of those who have died are angry over Trump’s advice not to fear COVID-19

— White House blocks FDA guidelines on bringing potential vaccines to market that would almost certainly prevent approval before election

— Ultra-Orthodox Jews account for over one-third of Israel’s virus patients as non-compliance tests gov’t and public health officials

— About 25 residents from Easter Island stranded 6 months in Tahiti will finally be able to return home this week on French military plane

— Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

NEW DELHI — India has registered 61,267 new coronavirus cases, its lowest daily increase since Aug. 25.

The country with nearly 6.7 million reported infections has had the highest single-day increases in the world for nearly 45 days. The last three weeks, however, have seen a gradual decline.

The Health Ministry on Tuesday also reported 884 deaths in the past 24 hours. The death toll now stands at 103,569.

India has the second-highest number of reported infections and is on track to exceed the caseload in the United States within weeks.

India’s recovery rate is more than 84%, the highest in the world, and nearly 5.7 million people have recovered, according to the Health Ministry.

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WHO: 1 in 10 people worldwide may have been infected by coronavirus

As much as 10 percent of the world’s population may have been infected with the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated on Monday.

The United Nations (UN) agency’s head of emergency response said at a briefing that millions of people remain at risk of contracting the virus due to persistent outbreaks in Southeast Asia and Europe, according to multiple news outlets.

“Our current best estimates tell us about 10 percent of the global population may have been infected by this virus. It varies depending on country, it varies from urban to rural, it varies depending on groups. But what it does mean is that the vast majority of the world remains at risk,” Dr. Michael Ryan said, according to Reuters.

“We are now heading into a difficult period. The disease continues to spread,” he continued.

Reuters also reported that the WHO official appeared to criticize China’s efforts to stop the virus from spreading in his remarks, blasting the country for a “failure” to provide accurate information to public health officials.

His comments come as the U.S. has for months accused China’s government of not doing enough to ensure that public health officials had access to accurate data about COVID-19 during the early months of the pandemic’s emergence in Wuhan, China.

U.S. officials have up until now also blamed the WHO for past statements they argued were too deferential to Chinese authorities, criticism which led the Trump administration to withdraw the U.S. from the organization.

Other top U.S. officials such as President TrumpDonald John TrumpQuestions remain unanswered as White House casts upbeat outlook on Trump’s COVID-19 fight White House staffers get email saying to stay home if they experience coronavirus symptoms White House says ‘appropriate precautions’ were taken for Trump’s outing to see supporters MORE have attempted to coin nicknames for the virus linking it to China, efforts which have been sharply criticized as leading to instances of discrimination and bigotry against Asian-Americans.

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Infected Trump greets supporters in motorcade outside hospital; his health unclear

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Doctors treating President Donald Trump for COVID-19 sent conflicting signals about the severity of his condition on Sunday, hours before the president surprised supporters gathered outside the hospital with an impromptu motorcade.

Trump, 74, wore a mask as he waved from the back seat of a black SUV that crawled in a caravan of vehicles in front of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center outside Washington, while supporters waving Trump 2020 flags chanted: “USA! USA!”

Trump, who said on Friday morning he had the infectious disease, was swiftly criticized for risking the health of support staff.

It was Trump’s first appearance in public since he was evacuated to the hospital on Friday.

“It’s a very interesting journey. I learned a lot about COVID,” he said in a video posted on Twitter shortly beforehand.

Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden tested negative again for the disease that has killed more than 200,000 Americans, his campaign said on Sunday. The former vice president, who shared a debate stage with Trump last Tuesday, previously tested negative in two tests on Friday, the day Trump disclosed his coronavirus infection.

Doctors said the president was improving, although they were monitoring the condition of his lungs after he received supplemental oxygen. They said he could be sent back to the White House as soon as Monday.

But Dr. Sean P. Conley said the president’s condition had been worse than he previously admitted. Conley said Trump’s blood oxygen levels had dropped in prior days and that he had run a high fever on Friday morning.

Asked what tests had revealed about the condition of Trump’s lungs, Conley replied: “There’s some expected findings, but nothing of any major clinical concern.”

Conley’s response suggested the X-rays revealed some signs of pneumonia, said Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins University.

“The expected finding is that he has evidence of pneumonia in the X-ray. If it was normal they would just say it is normal,” Adalja said.

Other doctors not involved in Trump’s treatment said there was evidence his case was severe. Trump is being given dexmethasone, a steroid used in severe COVID cases, as well as the intravenous antiviral drug Remdesivir and an experimental antibody treatment from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.

“It would be very unlikely for him to be out and about, and on the campaign trail in less than 14 days,” said Dr. David Battinelli, chief medical officer at New York’s Northwell Health.

Administration officials have given contradictory assessments of Trump’s health. Conley and other doctors delivered a positive prognosis on Saturday, which was promptly undercut by Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

“I was trying to reflect an upbeat attitude of the team and the president about the course his illness has had,” Conley told reporters on Sunday. “I didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction.”

‘IRRESPONSIBILITY’

Trump spent much of the year downplaying the risks of the COVID-19

Could Trump Have Infected Biden?

The variability around both the tests and the disease itself makes it hard to reconstruct a firm timeline of what happened to Trump and those close to him. For example, Hope Hicks, a senior adviser, tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, a day before Trump did. But this timing doesn’t mean that Hicks gave the virus to him, or even that she was infected before he was. Trump could have been infected first but slower to develop symptoms. He might have had several false-negative test results, while Hicks was first to have a true positive. Hicks might have been tested more frequently than Trump: Anyone in proximity to the president is tested daily, and although the White House says the president is tested “multiple times a day,” Trump himself has said he is tested only once every two or three days. “This visceral response that he got it from Hicks—we can’t say that,” says Saskia Popescu, an infection preventionist at the University of Arizona. “We can only loosely understand the general timeframes.”

Both Hicks and Trump could have caught the virus from a third person, or from completely different people. Indeed, there are plenty of candidates. Many of Trump’s supporters and aides have been vocal about not wearing masks, and frequently came into close contact with other people in indoor spaces. Melania Trump has also tested positive, as have Ronna McDaniel, the chair of the Republican National Committee, Senator Mike Lee of Utah, and the University of Notre Dame president, John Jenkins. Many of them were at the Rose Garden event on September 26, when Trump officially nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Others in the White House, at Trump’s rallies, and at Tuesday’s debate could have been exposed. Contact tracing in these situations will be extremely difficult.

“Everyone who was at the debate should now be quarantining as much as possible, monitoring themselves closely for symptoms, wearing masks, and keeping their physical distance as much as possible,” says Eleanor Murray, an epidemiologist at Boston University. That goes for Biden, too, despite today’s negative test. After being exposed to the virus, half of the people who go on to show symptoms are symptomatic by day five—that would be Sunday for Biden, if he was exposed during the debate. About 98 percent of people are symptomatic by day 12, which would be next Sunday. If Biden is still testing negative a week from now, “it’ll be a good sign that there’s little likelihood of having been infected,” Murray says. Until then, he has to wait.

The image of Trump shouting at Biden on a national stage raises the specter of the former infecting the latter. But as ever, the pandemic says as much about the world we live in as the behavior of individuals. That we are even weighing the possibility of the incumbent president inadvertently infecting his opponent with a pandemic virus during a nationally televised event should be an indictment of America’s laxity in dealing with

Governor’s Office Won’t Disclose Number of Infected Staffers | Missouri News

ST. LOUIS (AP) — As Missouri Gov. Mike Parson continues to recover from the coronavirus, his office is declining to say how many members of his staff also have tested positive.

Parson’s spokeswoman, Kelli Jones, has not responded to several requests for information on staff illnesses, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Friday. Jones did not immediately respond to an inquiry from The Associated Press.

The decision not to provide information on illnesses within the office differs from the practice of other state agencies that have routinely reported virus cases since the pandemic began. For example, the Missouri Department of Corrections has reported 613 positive tests among employees since the onset of the pandemic, and the Department of Mental Health says 384 workers have tested positive, with four deaths.

An estimated three dozen people work closely with the Republican governor. Parson and his wife, Teresa, tested positive on Sept. 23. Neither has developed serious symptoms.

Parson’s office earlier confirmed a number of staffers on his team were in quarantine and working from home after the Parsons’ positive tests.

Meanwhile, Missouri leaders were still declining to impose new restrictions or mandate masks, even as the state remained in the White House Coronavirus Task Force’s “red zone.”

Missouri’s rate of new COVID-19 cases and percentage of positive test results were among the highest in the U.S. for September, the Post-Dispatch reported. The federal task force warned that those numbers put Missouri in a vulnerable position heading into the fall and winter.

Hospitalizations in Missouri for COVID-19 rose by 29% in September to their highest levels during the pandemic, with the surge occurring largely in rural areas and mid-sized cities.

“Institute mask requirements in counties with ongoing transmission; reduce capacity for indoor dining and bars while expanding outdoor dining options,” the latest task force report, dated Sept. 27, advised.

Missouri has had no statewide restrictions since June 15.

Parson said in a livestreamed news conference this week that his staff is continuing to focus on what he calls “four pillars.” They are: increasing testing, having enough protective equipment for health workers, making sure hospitals do not reach capacity and providing transparent data.

“I want to reassure everyone that all four of these pillars are stable. We monitor this every day, and we are constantly working to improve. The fight is not over, but we are on the right track, and we will get through this,” Parson said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services, told the Post-Dispatch that because of the state’s diversity, government officials are letting local leaders decide when to implement restrictions rather than enacting statewide benchmarks.

Missouri on Friday reported 1,485 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, bringing the total to 129,397 since the pandemic began. The state also reported 16 new deaths, bringing the total to 2,144.

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