Those working in senior living know that the pandemic is not over. You live with the ramifications every day as you take precautions to try to keep staff members, residents and their families healthy and safe.
Sometimes, however, things happen despite best efforts, and the news this week brought sobering reminders that vigilance must continue.
As many as 30 residents at one Florida continuing care retirement community — many of them vaccinated — have tested positive for COVID-19, according to residents there. Some reportedly had symptoms and some did not. “A crowded Fourth of July concert” is thought to be the culprit. Most attendees were not wearing masks because of the high percentage of vaccinated residents, according to one resident.
Bill Pickhardt, chief operating officer of John Knox Village in Pompano Beach, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel that 95% of the community’s approximately 1,700 residents are vaccinated against COVID-19, although only approximately 40% of staff members are, even though the community has hosted at least six vaccination clinics. As investigators try to determine whether residents have the Delta variant of the virus, the CCRC has introduced voluntary testing and plans to reduce programming and suspend indoor dining, Pickhardt said.
Interestingly, according to the media outlet, this outbreak is the first to be reported in a long-term care facility in Florida since the vaccine rollout, and it is occurring at the very location where the vaccine was rolled out in February in the Sunshine State.
John Knox isn’t the only place where COVID outbreaks are occurring. Another example comes from an assisted living and memory care community in Oregon, where as of Friday, at least 19 residents and six staff members had been infected.
Public health officials are blaming the outbreak at Spruce Point Assisted Living and Memory Care in Florence on a low vaccination rate among staff members — only 5% of staff members are vaccinated, according to television station KEZI.
Lane County Public Health spokesperson Jason Davis said it is a reminder of the importance of vaccination, and that “[i]t’s not enough to vaccinate residents. You need to vaccinate staff,” he told the Register Guard. (A group of experts from seven professional organizations said last week that COVID-19 vaccinations should be mandatory for U.S. long-term care and other healthcare workers.)
Visitation at the community is back to being restricted to the outdoors, KEZI reported.
Those are just two examples.Unfortunately, COVID isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, making the additional relief that senior living providers seek all the more urgent. And vigilance still necessary.