AUSTIN (KXAN) — Nursing home residents who test positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, but do not need to be in the hospital will soon be moving to a separate nursing home facility established by the nursing home task force.
The nursing home facility is separate from the Austin-Travis County Isolation Facility, which is for people who test positive, who meet designated symptom criteria, and/or have had a known exposure to someone who tested positive, according to City of Austin officials.
The nursing home facility will only house nursing home residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 and need to isolate. These facilities will be able to meet the special needs of nursing home patients.
“These initial [nursing home facilities], featuring approximately 100 beds, will provide COVID-19 patients a secure place to recover while keeping other nursing home residents and staff safe,” the city wrote in a press release.
The 100 total beds will be housed at two separate nursing home isolation facilities — one in Travis County and one in Williamson County. The City is working to have the first facility operational by next week, April 6-10.
Austin Public Health officials maintained they are prioritizing testing for nursing home resident to prevent a similar outbreaks seen at other nursing facilities around the country.
Any health concerns with nursing home residents will quickly be addressed, according to APH. The idea and plan is to keep the most at-risk population as safe as possible with isolation while also potentially preserving the general health of the community.
All staff working at the facilities will be fully licensed and provided with personal protective equipment. Also, staff members working at the isolation facilities won’t be permitted in another nursing home facility.
APH first began working to protect elders March 11 with its Health Authority Control Order, which included checking the temperatures of everyone before entering a facility.
Concerns about younger people spreading COVID-19
Austin Public Health said younger people in the city need to do more to slow the spread of the coronavirus. More than half of those who test positive are between the ages of 20-40, APH said. While many will experience a mild illness, those who are older or who have underlying conditions are much more likely to get seriously sick. The chief concern is young people may spread the virus to those who cannot fight it as easily.
“Even if you are young, or otherwise healthy, you are at risk and your activities can increase the risk for others,” said Dr. Mark Escott, interim health authority for Austin-Travis County. “It is critical that you do your part to slow the spread of this virus.”