52 test positive for COVID-19 at Austin nursing home

Investigations
Austin Wellness and Rehabilitation

Photo: Andrew Choat/KXAN

AUSTIN (KXAN) – In the past week, 40 residents and 12 employees of Austin Wellness and Rehabilitation have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the northwest Austin nursing home’s website.

The sudden spike in cases at Austin Wellness and Rehab came after four virus-free months. The facility recorded its first positive case on July 7: a single resident. By July 13, the home had 52 cases, according to the company’s website. It is not clear if any residents have died from the virus; those statistics are not available online. The company has not responded to KXAN’s request for comment, yet.

The surge in cases at Austin Wellness and Rehab mirrors the rapid escalation in cases both in nursing homes and in the state’s general population in June, according to local health officials and data from the Health and Human Services Commission.

COVID-19, also called coronavirus, is most dangerous for elderly people and those with existing health conditions.

Last week, Travis County saw 240 new cases of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities compared to 48 new cases the week before that, according to a Tuesday presentation at Travis County Commissioner’s Court.

“Our nursing home defenses have been penetrated, and we are seeing numbers like we were seeing early on in this outbreak,” said Austin Public Health Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott. “This provides us evidence that we have to do better at reducing the community transmission, and two — we have to have additional resources to do more aggressive testing and containment.”

Across Texas, nearly 68% of all nursing homes have recorded at least one case of the virus, with 1,147 deaths, according to HHSC data updated July 13.

For months the Texas Health & Human Services Commission refused to disclose the number and locations of positive COVID-19 cases among nursing and living facilities. KXAN investigators have verified viewer tips and confirmed whistleblower accounts independently throughout Central Texas. On July 27, HHSC began posting facility-level data; however, KXAN will continue to independently verify and update this map as new outbreaks are brought to our attention.

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