After a steady slide in the statewide number of new coronavirus infections at skilled nursing homes, facilities in Santa Cruz and Shasta Counties are grappling with severe outbreaks, with several dozen people at both places testing positive and residents dying of COVID-19.
The outbreaks raise questions on whether a May directive by state health officials, requiring regular testing of nursing home residents and staff, is being comprehensively implemented. Some watchdogs fear another spike could be in the offing at facilities that care for some of California’s most frail and vulnerable.
“Something is terribly wrong because they shouldn’t be having deaths,” Charlene Harrington, a professor emeritus at UC San Francisco who studies skilled nursing facilities, said Thursday. “There is a breakdown.”
At the Watsonville-Post Acute Center in Santa Cruz County, 61 people, including nine staff members, have tested positive since mid-September. Nine residents, whose ages ranged from the low 70s to 90s, have died, county health spokeswoman Corinne Hyland said Tuesday.
The facility is licensed for 95 beds.
In Redding, the Windsor Redding Care Center, another skilled nursing home, also is coping with an outbreak. Sixty residents and 20 staff members have contracted the virus, and seven have died from COVID-19, said Shasta County Health and Human Services spokeswoman Kerri Schuette.
Patricia McGinnis, executive director of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, said new California testing requirements imposed on nursing homes were being followed only sporadically and with little follow-up enforcement from the state.
In addition, rapid antigen tests the federal government has sent to nursing homes recently have been “absolutely useless,” she said. They produce