15 Billings Care Home Staff Members, 43 Residents Test Positive For COVID-19

Elderly people remain at high risk of contracting the coronavirus, a reason why care homes need to be closely monitored. There had been reports of residents testing positive for COVID-19 and such had spread to staff members in select places. Over in Canyon Creek Memory Care Community in Billings, 43 of the 55 residents tested positive together with 15 staff members.

The report came from Yellowstone County's public health officials who also added that two residents had been hospitalized at RiverStone Health. The cases were determined following testing that was performed at the care center last July 3. The 55 residents and 56 staff members underwent COVID-19 testing. So far, seven residents and 26 staff members turned out negative. The results from nine residents and 15 staff members are still pending as of this writing.

In a press release from Yellowstone County Health Officer John Felton, the root cause of the outbreak might have come from a staff, member or a visitor. The latest development involving Canyon Creek adds to the woes of Yellowstone County. The region now has more than double the active cases compared to any other county in Montana. The latest update also came not long after Gov. Steve Bullock announced that visits to nursing homes and assisted-living facilities could resume. This is provided that safety measures were in place.

But with the new rise in cases, Felton announced that visitations would be limited to compassionate end-of-life cases. Folks who would visit care facilities need to wear masks at all times.

nursing home Nursing Homes. Ann, CC by 2.0

The latest update on the Canyon Creek Memory Care facility is that they have not been conducting regular surveillance testing on patients and staff for COVID-19. This was revealed by Bullock at a news conference and seen as one of the reasons why the cases got out of hand at the facility. Health experts urged assisted-living facilities to do conduct surveillance testing regularly to help in the early detection of COVID-19 cases. However, only 80 percent of assisted-living facilities complied.

Bullock is now authorizing the Department of Public Health and Human Services to make surveillance testing a requirement before they are allowed to have visitors. So far, only five of the state's long-term facilities have not followed this protocol.

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