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David Swartley COVID Update #24

From: David Swartley, President/CEO 
Date: September 2, 2020 
RE: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update #24 

Happy September 1! I am writing to give a general update concerning COVID-19. At the time of this writing, we have no residents who have tested positive for COVID-19. Our employee who tested positive is back at work. 

However, late last week, various areas of our Skilled Nursing and Personal care have been moved to a “Yellow Zone.” Moving to a “Yellow Zone” means that we are taking extra precautions due to possible COVID-19 exposure. We have several team members who have been in contact with someone testing positive. At the moment, we wait for several test results to come back to guide our next moves. We are prohibiting scheduled visitation at this time as per the Department of Health guidelines. I commend our residents and families in our care areas for their long-suffering spirit. These are definitely challenging times. 

I have sensed a heightened level of tension on our campus’s in the past week. As many of our employee’s children head back to school, it opens up another new dimension of disease transmission. We anticipate that virus levels will increase with schools in session, particularly college housing reopening, which poses a significant risk. Once again, simple actions like wearing a mask, washing hands, and social distancing make a difference. I have attached a current page from the Center for Disease Control website for your reference. 

We continue to receive new guidance that changes our planned trajectory. There have been minor changes in the testing requirements for our staff. We will implement these changes moving forward. All healthcare facilities will receive a testing unit that would enable us to administer a test and get the results in less than an hour (testing for individuals with symptoms). While there are pros and cons to each testing mechanism, this equipment will give us more timely information. 

I was reminded over the weekend that difficulty in life is often accompanied by “a silver lining.” Our son returned to high school a week ago. Over the weekend, he said to me, “I hope that school does not get shifted to remote learning again. I would rather be in school.” After I caught my breath, I reflected that not all the changes that have occurred in the past six months have been negative! I also will have a new appreciation for times of socialization and fellowship. 

I want to remind everyone that as we move into Labor Day weekend to stay aware of everything we have learned during the past six months. While most of our learning is not “rocket science,” I am humbled by how easy we can get careless. Stay well! 

Everyone Should 

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. 
  • It’s especially important to wash: 
    • Before eating or preparing food 
    • Before touching your face 
    • After using the restroom 
    • After leaving a public place 
    • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing 
    • After handling your mask 
    • After changing a diaper 
    • After caring for someone sick 
    • After touching animals or pets 
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. 

Avoid close contact 

  • Inside your home: Avoid close contact with people who are sick
    • If possible, maintain 6 feet between the person who is sick and other household members. 

Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others 

  • You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick. 
  • The mask is meant to protect other people in case you are infected. 
  • Everyone should wear a mask in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. 
    • Masks should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance. 
  • Do NOT use a mask meant for a healthcare worker. Currently, surgical masks and N95 respirators are critical supplies that should be reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders. 
  • Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The mask is not a substitute for social distancing. 

Cover coughs and sneezes 

  • Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow and do not spit. 
  • Throw used tissues in the trash. 
  • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. 

Clean and disinfect 

  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks. 
  • If surfaces are dirty, clean them. Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection. 
  • Then, use a household disinfectant. Most common EPA-registered household disinfectant icon will work. 

Monitor Your Health Daily 

  • Be alert for symptoms. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19. 
  • Take your temperature if symptoms develop. 
    • Don’t take your temperature within 30 minutes of exercising or after taking medications that could lower your temperature, like acetaminophen. 
  • Follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop. 

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