COVID-19 has claimed two additional lives at a convalescent home in San Andreas, where an outbreak has been occurring since August, resulting in the deaths of more than 10% of the facility’s total 100 residents.
Calaveras County Public Health confirmed the two recent deaths linked to the Avalon Health Care outbreak on Friday, stating that both decedents were females over the age of 65.
The health department has confirmed 13 total deaths connected to the facility since first reporting the outbreak on Aug. 21.
The skilled nursing home, which has been accused by two employees of not practicing proper PPE protocol during the COVID-19 pandemic, has disclosed nine resident deaths and 63 total residents infected as of Oct. 5. Twenty-six staff members were also infected but have all recovered.
Avalon Health Care Group, a private health care company based in Utah, has denied all allegations of malpractice.
“Of these residents, three are being cared for at the facility on its COVID unit, none are being cared for at the hospital, one discharged, and 50 have recovered,” an Oct. 5 update on the San Andreas facility’s website reads. “The facility’s COVID unit is separated from the rest of the facility by a physical barrier and has dedicated staff who only care for the resident on the COVID unit. Decisions regarding transfer of residents to the hospital are made in consultation with the hospital, the resident’s physicians, and the resident’s family.”
County Health Officer and Medical Director at Avalon in San Andreas Dean Kelaita, MD, stated on Sept. 29 that the outbreak appeared to be abating “due to the hard work of the dedicated staff” and would soon be considered officially over if no new cases were reported after two consecutive weekly testing cycles.
However, Public Health announced two new cases on Oct. 6, following two additional cases reported last week.
“To family members and friends who are grieving a loved one who passed away from COVID-19, our thoughts are with you during this difficult time,” Kelaita stated in a Friday press release.
According to Public Health, residents and staff continue to be monitored for COVID-19 at Avalon Health Care, and infection control procedures at the facility are “ongoing.”
Meanwhile, countywide case numbers remain low, with just eight active cases reported in the county and no current hospitalizations. One new case was reported Friday in a male between 50 to 64 years of age who resides in District 1, while three additional non-Avalon related cases were reported on Tuesday.
Deaths at Avalon Health Care have accounted for the majority of the county’s 16 total COVID-19 related deaths.
Nursing home resident deaths during the pandemic have constituted roughly 30% of the state's total COVID-19-related deaths. Another outbreak at Kit Carson Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Jackson claimed 11 lives, while several other Avalon Health Care Group locations in California have reported outbreaks and resident deaths.
“Let’s all do our part and take preventive actions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Kelaita said. “Practice physical distancing, wear a face covering, get tested, wash your hands often, stay home if you are sick, and avoid any gatherings especially where physical distancing and masking is not being followed. If we do all of these things, we can continue to keep sectors open and at the same time protect the health and well-being of everyone in our county.”
Kelaita announced earlier this week that he will be stepping down as health officer, citing the “current political climate,” but will be continuing his work at Avalon.