30 residents at Riverside nursing facility test positive for coronavirus in county’s largest cluster

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Thirty residents and several staff members at a Riverside nursing facility tested positive for the novel coronavirus in what is believed to be the largest cluster in the county, authorities said Sunday.

Health officials are trying to determine whether others at the Extended Care Hospital of Riverside, 8171 Magnolia Ave., have been infected after staff and residents tested positive for the virus, according to the Riverside University Health System.

Of the residents who have COVID-19, one or two of them are hospitalized but it’s clear if they were sent there due to complications for the respiratory illness or other health conditions, the agency’s spokesman Jose Arballo Jr. said. Their conditions were unknown Sunday.

It’s unclear how many employees at the facility have tested positive.

All residents and staff members at the more than 90-bed nursing home are being tested for the coronavirus and officials are trying to determine if any of the infected staff members also worked at other nursing facilities, potentially exposing others, according to Arballo Jr.

Arballo Jr. said this appears to be the largest known coronavirus cluster in Riverside County.

“We will be seeing more and more of these outbreaks in the community,” Riverside County public health officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser said in a written statement. “This is a vulnerable population and we’ll take all the steps necessary to protect them. But these steps can only work effectively if people stay home, stay apart, and cover up their faces in public to reduce overall transmission.”

There were 799 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 19 deaths in Riverside County as of Sunday, according to the public health agency. County officials on Saturday ordered all residents to stay home and cover their faces when leaving.

Extended Care was closed to new residents and all patients were isolated and are being closely monitored, authorities said.

Staff members were using personal protective equipment and those who test positive “will be removed from work until cleared,” the public health agency said in a news release.

“This is a very serious situation and shows why we must all take serious steps to change our behavior, because these steps are intended to protect our most vulnerable. They need and deserve our protection and we must all do our part,” Second District Supervisor Karen Spiegel said in a statement.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists people who live in nursing homes or long-term care facilities as at higher risk for severe illness. Senior care facilities across the state have already restricted visitor and stepped up cleanings as health officials warned that people 65 and older and those with underlying health conditions are more vulnerable to COVID-19.

Extended Care Hospital’s general counsel released a statement through the county’s public health agency saying, “Extended Care has been proactively on the forefront of the efforts to stave off COVID 19, strictly following all government suggested and mandated protocols, including long term infection control measures in anticipation of circumstances like these.”

Nursing homes and assisted-living facilities across the state have seen significant increases in coronavirus cases.

At a Yucaipa nursing home, two residents have died and 51 residents and six staff members tested positive for the coronavirus.

In Burbank, two residents died from COVID-19 at a nursing home where at least five other residents and 10 employees have also tested positive for the virus.

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