Redwood Springs: More residents have COVID-19 than any other California nursing home


Redwood Springs Healthcare Center has the worst COVID-19 outbreak among skilled nursing facility residents in the state, according to new data released by the California Department of Public Health.

The list, released late Friday, names every nursing home in the state with a known coronavirus outbreak and the number of patients and staff who tested positive at each facility. 

According to the state's data, the Visalia nursing home has 91 residents and 56 staff with COVID-19 — the state's second-worst outbreak overall and the highest number of infected residents of any facility.

However, the state's tally is out of date. Redwood Springs now has 161 cases — 107 residents and 54 employees — according to numbers obtained by the Times-Delta from Tulare County Health & Human Services Agency. 

That would make Redwood Springs the state's single worst outbreak out of more than 260 facilities.

The Redwood Springs outbreak has so far claimed 10 lives — nearly 60% of the county's 17 deaths.

Nursing homes and rehabilitation centers have become ground zero for the coronavirus pandemic in the United States due to the age and health conditions of residents, as well as their close proximity to each other.

Since the initial outbreak of eight patients at the Visalia facility was announced on April 1, the number of cases has increased twentyfold. Officials said two health care workers developed symptoms while caring for two patients in one room on March 30.

Retired nurses and students, as well as staff from the county's three hospitals, have stepped in to help the struggling facility. Additional support is expected from the state next week while 28 beds have been reserved for nursing home residents at the Porterville Developmental Center.

"Our absolute worst-case scenario is having to evacuate this facility and move those residents to another facility," Tim Lutz, Tulare County HHSA Director, said on Tuesday. "We are working very hard to keep staffing there so we do not have to evacuate (Redwood Springs)."

A second nursing home outbreak was announced last week at Lindsay Gardens Nursing and Rehabilitation. As of Saturday, there are 20 cases — 14 residents and six staff — at the rural Tulare County facility.

Officials say the cause of the outbreak in Lindsay is unknown. However, at least one nursing assistant worked at both the Lindsay and Visalia facilities.

Lindsay Gardens promptly alerted Tulare County Public Health Branch to the suspected presence of COVID-19 at its facility, officials said.

No other central California county has reported nursing home outbreaks, according to the state's report, which also doesn't list the number of deaths associated with each facility.

Statewide, 1,740 residents and 1,290 health care workers have tested positive across 261 nursing homes, according to the report.

Nursing home cases account for nearly half of Tulare County's 397 total cases, of which 143 are over the age of 65. 

Joshua Yeager covers water, agriculture, parks and housing for the Visalia Times-Delta and Tulare Advance-Register newspapers. Follow him onTwitter @VTD_Joshy. Get alerts and keep up on all things Tulare County for as little as $1 a month. Subscribe today.

[This story was originally published by Visalia Times Delta.]

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