COVID-19 found at Casper nursing home; 265 to be tested, quarantined


Roughly 265 staff members

and residents at a Casper longterm care facility

will be tested and quarantined after a

case of the coronavirus was confirmed there,

health officials said Thursday.

The contagious nature of COVID-19 and

the high-risk setting prompted the testing of

all staff and residents as soon as possible, the

Casper-Natrona County Health Department

said in a statement.

That testing was performed Thursday.

The announcement did not name the facility.

However, the Wyoming Department of

Health identified it as Life Care Center of

Casper. The center’s director, Tess Bailey,

later confirmed that a resident at the facility

did test positive for COVID-19 and is now

receiving care at a local hospital.

On Wednesday night, the Casper-Natrona

County Health Department learned that the

resident had tested positive. That person was

tested after exhibiting symptoms, the health

department said.

It’s unclear where that resident was originally

exposed to the virus. The department

did not offer details about the person who

was infected, other than to clarify that the

resident was a previously identified case.

COVID-19 spreads easily and is of particular

concern to health officials when it’s

found in a nursing home or other long-term

care facility, where older residents live in

close quarters. Older people are also more

likely to develop severe symptoms from the

disease.

On Thursday, the state announced the

death of a COVID-19 patient at a Washakie

County nursing home that’s experiencing a

coronavirus outbreak.

The county health department is relying

heavily on its partnership with Wyoming

Medical Center, the state’s largest hospital,

to conduct so many tests at once, said Hailey

Bloom, the agency’s spokeswoman.

“They offered us three testing sites, plus

testing at our facility,” Bloom said. “Without

that, it would be a logistical nightmare.”

Bloom said the residents are quarantining

at the facility itself.

Given that some staff members are needed

for the center to remain open, the Wyoming

Health Department has permitted asymptomatic

staff members to continue working.

However, those workers would only be allowed

to leave their homes to work, Bloom

explained.

“Due to the large number of staff members

required to quarantine, these individuals

who are asymptomatic but awaiting test

results will be allowed to work only with

appropriate personal protective equipment

to ensure residents receive continued and required

care,” the Health Department said in

an announcement.

Bailey confirmed in a Thursday evening

statement that all staff and residents had been

tested. If a resident tests positive, he or she

will be placed in isolation within the building,

she explained. Staff will recover at home

and only return to work when they meet

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

guidelines.

“Our primary concern is for the health

and safety of our residents, nursing staff and

other care providers,” Bailey said. “They are

on the front line of this unprecedented outbreak.

Our staff is trained in proper use of

PPEs and are following all relevant guidelines

in infection control. They are putting in

heroic efforts to ensure that our patients are

receiving excellent care.”

Bailey said the center would stay in regular

contact with families and, since visitation

remains restricted, would coordinate calls,

video chats and window visits.

The positive case at Life Care comes amid

a resurgence in cases in Natrona County,

with 17 in the past nine days. Prior to that, the

county had gone three weeks without a case.

Two confirmed cases were reported

Thursday, including a man in his 70s and a

woman in her 30s. On Wednesday, health

officials here closed a local day-care facility

after a child tested positive for COVID-19.

In that instance, 32 staff and children were

tested and a total of 58 people were told to

quarantine. Bloom said the results of the tests

from the child-care and long-term care facilities

could be ready in as soon as 24 hours but

might take longer.

“The (Wyoming) Department of Health is

prioritizing both of these tests,” Bloom said.

“They know this is an urgent situation and

they know we need to get these results as

quickly as we can.”

Also on Wednesday, the state announced

a new testing program to address outbreaks at

long-term care facilities. As part of that program,

all staff and residents at facilities with

identified cases will have to be tested weekly

until the ongoing outbreak disappears.

“Staff from our department are helping

with the overall situation in Casper through

consultation and support for contract tracing,

as well as prioritized testing at the Wyoming

Public Health Laboratory,” said Wyoming

Department of Health spokeswoman Kim

Deti.

Two outbreaks have already occurred at

long-term care facilities in Wyoming.

Over the weekend, the state announced

that five staff members and four residents

at Worland Healthcare Rehabilitation Center

tested positive for COVID-19. The latest

person in Wyoming to die after contracting

coronavirus, an older man who lived at the

center, was announced Thursday.

The other outbreak occurred in March at

the Showboat Retirement Center in Lander.

In that instance, 16 people were sickened.

Additionally, 22 cases have been linked

to Wyoming Behavioral Institute in Casper.

To date, Wyoming has recorded more

than 600 confirmed cases of coronavirus,

with nearly 200 additional probable cases,

according to the health department. Twelve

residents have died after contracting COVID-

19.

To limit the virus’ spread, Gov. Mark

Gordon and State Health Officer Dr. Alexia

Harrist in March ordered the closure of

schools and many businesses where people

congregate, including bars, gyms and hair

salons.

Gyms and personal care establishments

were able to reopen with some restrictions

May 1. The state has also allowed restaurants

to open again – with conditions.

And on May 15, the state allowed an order

limiting public gatherings to 10 people or

less was allowed to expire in favor of one

setting the limit at 25.

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