Austin Public Health investigating multiple COVID-19 clusters; 8 involve senior-living communities


This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (yellow)—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (pink) cultured in the lab. Credit: NIAID-RML

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Public Health has identified and will investigate nine current clusters of COVID-19 in Travis County in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus in the area.

APH is defining a cluster as three or more positive cases of COVID-19 at a single location.

Of the nine confirmed clusters, eight clusters have been identified at senior living communities or long-term care facilities including nursing homes, hospices, assisted living facilities, independent living centers, skilled nursing centers and intermediate care facilities.

APH provided information on the areas of senior-living communities currently dealing with clusters of COVID-19 in Travis County.

  • 1 in north Austin
  • 2 in central Austin
  • 2 in south Austin
  • 1 in southeast Austin
  • 2 in southwest Austin

Currently, clusters do not present a significant risk to the local community as there is significant community spread of COVID-19 across Austin, according to APD.

APH reports 14 of the 25 people who have died from COVID-19 in Austin-Travis County since the start of the outbreak were residents of senior living communities.

A previously reported cluster has been identified at the downtown Austin Salvation Army facility on 501 East 8th Street. The downtown shelter temporarily closed this week and transferred all residents to isolation/quarantine or other lodging facilities.

When a nursing home cluster is discovered, an APH unit is doing testing at the facility for patients and staff. Anyone who tests positive for coronavirus are isolated from other patients, and staff who test positive are removed from patient care duties until they complete their quarantine period, according to APH.

The nursing home task force is currently using two nursing home facilities, one in Travis County and one in Williamson County, separate from the Austin-Travis County Isolation Facility to meet the special needs of nursing home patients with COVID-19. A senior patient that is COVID-19 positive but does not need hospitalization will be taken to these facilities.

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