46 residents and staff members test positive for COVID-19 at Round Rock nursing home

Nursing Home Investigations

FILE – This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S. On Tuesday, April 21, 2020, U.S. health regulators OK’d the first coronavirus test that allows people to collect their own sample at home, a new approach that could help expand testing options in most states. The sample will still have to be shipped for processing back to LabCorp, which operates diagnostic labs throughout the U.S. (NIAID-RML via AP)

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Authorities in Williamson County have confirmed the area’s first cluster of COVID-19 cases at a Round Rock nursing home.

In total, 46 people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus at the same facility, including residents and staff. The Williamson County and Cities Health District became aware of two positive cases of COVID-19 at a Williamson County nursing home on Thursday, April 23. 

On Sunday, authorities in Williamson County said 262 people have now been diagnosed with the coronavirus. Six of those people have died, but 136 have recovered.

“Swift action was taken that evening to deploy a strike team of health district nurses, epidemiologist and EMS staff that had been trained on how to obtain samples for testing,” said Derrick Neal, Executive Director Williamson County and Cities Health District.

While working with the facility, the health district says that strike team was able to test all of the facility’s residents and staff. In total, 233 samples were taken Thursday evening, and Friday morning.

The test results are still being reviewed. So far, there have been 46 confirmed cases.

“For control orders, the following actions have been taken: All patients, staff and next of kin are being notified by the facility,” said Neal. “New residents are restricted from entering the facility until it has been cleared by the Williamson County and Cities Health District.”

Health officials say the nursing home is large enough to isolate the residents inside a separate wing of the facility. All of the test results should be in by Monday. At least one staff member has tested positive, along with multiple residents.

The Williamson County and Cities Health District (WCCHD) said it is working closely with the facility in question to mitigate the spread. An investigation is ongoing.

“Our top priority, from the beginning, has been to protect our most vulnerable residents,” said County Judge Bill Gravell.

“We are putting all of the resources we have available into isolating this cluster so that no others will be infected.” 

On April 23, WCCHD updated its control orders, which apply to 65 facilities including assisted living, nursing homes, skilled nursing and long-term care facilities. 

Under the updated order, all patients, staff and next of kin will be notified of any confirmed case within a facility.

In the event of a cluster, the facility cannot receive new or returning patients until it is cleared to do so, and must make all staff available for testing if required.

In addition, a “strike team” of extra personnel and equipment may be deployed to assist staff.

Six people have died from COVID-19 in Williamson County. In total, 211 people in the county have been diagnosed with the virus.

In neighboring Travis County, there have been at least 16 deaths, including a staff member, linked to outbreaks across eight nursing home or assisted living facilities.

FULL COVERAGE: Tracking COVID-19 cases in nursing homes

As COVID-19 cases spread across Texas, another startling trend is growing inside facilities housing some of the state’s most vulnerable. Experts say residents in nursing homes and retirement centers are at great risk due to their age, often-compromised immune systems and close-living quarters. While state health officials have refused to publicly release which of those sites have confirmed tested, infected, quarantined or deceased residents and staff, KXAN investigators are tracking and confirming these cases independently in Central Texas. If you have a tip, fill out our secure form below or email us at investigates@kxan.com.

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