County Reports COVID-19 Clusters at Nursing Homes

News regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and local response to it is coming quickly. Here is what you need to know today.

  • County reports clusters of COVID-19 at senior living communities, enacts new orders
  • Abbott says state’s first pop-up hospital will be at Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center
  • Dallas needs to get loud Tuesday

County Reports COVID-19 Clusters at Nursing Homes

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said that the county is beginning to see clusters of cases that are positive for the novel coronavirus, announcing the news Sunday.

The news came after the county announced that its 10th death from the virus was a woman in her 80s who was a resident at the senior-living facility Edgemere, located on Thackery Street and Northwest Highway. The woman was one of four positive cases at the facility, including two other residents and a staff member.

The county also found four cases (with two more pending) at Skyline Nursing Home in Oak Cliff and another case at Monticello West in Oak Lawn.

Jenkins announced new restrictions on nursing homes because, he said, “When these things get into the nursing homes, they spread and they spread rapidly. You’ll get into a situation where virtually everyone there has a very high chance of getting it.”

Under the new instructions, all staff members must be notified immediately of a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis, as well as all mentally competent residents and/or their family members – within six waking hours, Jenkins said.

Any nursing home or assisted-living facility with COVID-19 cases must cease taking new admissions, and residents can’t transfer from a facility with COVID-19 cases to one without. All staff members must wear masks, and part-time staffers cannot work at other nursing homes.

Jenkins went so far as to recommend that family members take their loved ones out of nursing homes if possible – in fact, he took his mother home three weeks ago.

 “What I am saying is if you bring your loved one home, it’s safer than leaving them in the nursing home, if you can,” he said, adding that families that decide to bring their relatives home will be quarantined after doing so.

“When you’re under quarantine, you cannot go to the grocery store, out for a walk or anywhere. If you want outdoor activities, it’ll be in your backyard,”  Jenkins said.

Lifespace Communities, the owner of Edgemere, announced Saturday that it had positive cases, and that as of that day, the community had been complying with all the state and local orders that pertained to it.

“Edgemere has activated an emergency response team, and we are working with health and infectious disease experts to take all appropriate steps to control the spread of COVID-19 and to protect our residents, team members and the greater community,” the statement added.

Abbott Announces First Pop-Up Hospital Will Be In Dallas, New Restrictions on Some Travelers To Texas

Gov. Greg Abbott told reporters Sunday that while the state has enough hospital beds for potential new COVID-19, officials were making plans for additional pop-up locations if existing hospital capacity is exhausted.

“While hospitals will remain the primary location to treat and care for those in need, we are ensuring that Texas is prepared for any possible scenario in which current hospital capacity is exhausted,” said Abbott. “This joint initiative with the Texas Military Department and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will expand the care capacity in communities across Texas.”

The first site, he said, will be Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.

Abbott said that the state has more than double the number of beds it needs right now, but that Dallas County has the most cases of any county in Texas, which was an important part of the discussions around the decision.

“Our goal is to focus on where we may be in one, two or three weeks from now,” Abbott said.

“We’re at pretty good capacity now, particularly as we double up on beds at our local hospitals,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said in a later press conference. Jenkins said he’s talking to local hospitals to determine when the center should open for overflow, and added that it’s not certain whether that pop-up hospital will come with staff – although 130 volunteers with medical experience have already volunteered.

Abbott said that additional sites the state has considered for future overflow hospitals include the currently-shuttered Walnut Hill Medical Center, Embassy Suites on Stemmons Freeway, and the Lumen Hotel.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will lead the effort, assisted by the Texas National Guard, Abbott said, and will initially create 250 beds, but the convention center could hold as many as 1,400 beds, Abbott and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Brig. Gen. Paul Owen said.

Abbott also issued an executive order that mandates a 14-day quarantined for road travelers arriving in Texas from Louisiana. A previous order mandated quarantines for air travelers from New Orleans.

The latter executive order now includes air travelers from:

  • California
  • Louisiana
  • Washington
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Detroit, Michigan
  • Miami, Florida
Community Test Sites Closed March 30 For Weather, Update Hours

The two community test sites at the American Airlines Center and the Ellis Davis Field House are closed March 30 because of the possibility of bad weather. They will re-open tomorrow from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Moment of Loudness to Celebrate Essential Workers

Tuesday evening, instead of a moment of silence, some area residents are suggesting we all get loud.

“In light of the virus, we’d like to bring some joy to the Dallas area – with a Moment of Loudness (instead of silence),” Sarah Bodzy wrote us Friday.

Organizers mean for the moment to be a salute to medical staff, essential workers, and others fighting the novel coronavirus on the front lines.

To participate, simply head out your front door and cheer loudly at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

“We’re working to get the news out to the Dallas community to create a loud cheer outside their doors at 6 p.m. in recognition of those that are out fighting COVID-19,” Bodzy said.

For more information, click here.

 

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, deputy editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at [email protected].

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