A health care worker is believed to be the source of the novel coronavirus’ entry into a Blair assisted living facility, a local health official said Thursday.
That health care worker, who officials believe came into contact with the virus in the community, is the third person tied to Carter Place to have tested positive for COVID-19, said Terra Uhing, executive director of the Three Rivers Public Health Department.
Two residents — a woman in her 90s who has been self-isolating in her room and a man in his 70s who has been hospitalized — also have tested positive for the virus.
Another Carter Place resident is symptomatic and has been examined at a health care facility, Uhing said during a press conference Thursday. Officials, through an investigation, had anticipated that the person may have come into contact with the coronavirus, she said.
Washington County now has five confirmed cases — the two residents, the health care worker and two unrelated travel cases.
Uhing said officials think they know “the event” at which the health care worker came into contact with the coronavirus. She declined to identify the event other than to say that it was not in Washington County.
“I know we sound like broken records — I know that you guys are hearing this across the state — but I am pleading with people to please take this seriously,” Uhing said. “If you are sick, we need you to stay home.”
Carter Place has taken many steps to protect its residents, Uhing said. All communal activities have ceased, and meals are being served to residents in their rooms. Special care is being paid to cleaning and disinfecting, and residents and staff members are being checked for symptoms “around the clock,” the Three Rivers Public Health Department has said.
Residents are under self-quarantine in their rooms. Family members are being allowed to see them from outside Carter Place through room windows.
“Right now, what we’re trying to do is really to mitigate and stop that transmission, and I believe they’ve done and put all of the things in place to do just that,” Uhing said.
But Uhing said she wouldn’t be surprised if more cases develop.
The Three Rivers Health Department also has reported two cases in Saunders County and one in Dodge County. One of the people in Saunders County is a case of community spread, which is when the cause of transmission is unknown. That is, someone tests positive who hasn’t traveled recently or been in contact with a person known to have the coronavirus disease.
The second Saunders County case is a household contact of that person.
Health officials have not said which community the person lives in or where in the community they had been. Uhing said the reason for not disclosing that information is because the person began self-quarantining as soon as she became symptomatic.