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COVID-19 outbreak at Watsonville Post Acute facility leads to state and county intervention

WPA OutbreakPIC

WATSONVILLE, Calif. (KION)

The California National Guard has been called out to assist with a COVID-19 outbreak at the Watsonville Post Acute Center, among other public health officials.

Five additional deaths were reported at the facility, bringing the total number of COVID-19 related deaths to nine.

According to county health officials, a cumulative count shows 46 residents and 15 staff members have tested positive for the virus.

Santa Cruz County Deputy Public Health Officer David Ghilarducci says the facility is currently locked down, meaning visitation from family and loved ones is strictly limited and no new patients are being admitted.

While members of the National Guard are to fill in for staff members who were infected, Ghilarducci says the county is preparing for the possibility of more drastic measures.

“If that doesn’t prove to be sufficient, we can bring in some additional resources including California medical assistance teams, but we’re not quite there yet. Our very last resort is evacuating the facility and actually sending the patients elsewhere."

Ghilarducci says the first person at the facility to test positive for the virus was originally sent to the hospital for complications unrelated to COVID-19 symptoms.

Once the facility began more testing, the results were alarming.

“Even though the facility was following the proper protocol, that is weekly testing of their staff, something happened in between these testing episodes that made this kind of blow up," says Ghilarducci.

"The most insidious nature about this virus is that the people that tested positive in the facility also weren’t showing symptoms, that’s what makes it so easy to spread.”

Staff who tested positive for the virus were sent home to self-isolate while some residents who tested positive were able to remain at the facility.

“If they show symptoms of decompensation or they show worsening symptoms, some have been sent in the hospital. We currently have six of these residents right now being cared for. The total number of hospitalized patients, I think it’s at least ten," says Ghilarducci.

Next door to the facility is the Watsonville Nursing Center.

Ghilarducci says at one point, there was a possibility of the virus crossing over as one of the staff members who worked at both facilities tested positive, but he says that staff member was immediately isolated.

No cases at that nursing center have been reported so far.

Ghilarducci says an investigation is underway to trace the outbreak.

Central Coast / Coronavirus / Health / Santa Cruz County / Top Stories

Jocelyn Ortega

Jocelyn Ortega is a multi-media journalist at KION News Channel 5/46.

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