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COVID-19 outbreak hits Wisconsin assisted living facility

The Lodge at River Falls Comforts of home and the Pierce County Public Health Department announced the outbreak Tuesday, saying three deaths have resulted.

RIVER FALLS, Wis. — A western Wisconsin assisted living facility is trying to stop a COVID-19 outbreak that has infected 23 residents and staff members, resulting in three deaths so far. 

The Lodge at River Falls Comforts of home and the Pierce County Public Health Department announced the outbreak Tuesday, saying the three fatalities involved residents of the facility. A number of other infected residents are currently hospitalized. 

“Together with senior living leaders, we have been preparing for the possibility of outbreaks in our senior living communities” said Pierce County Public Health Director and Health Officer AZ Snyder. “Public Health is working closely with The Lodge at River Falls Comforts of Home staff to ensure everyone in the facility is closely monitored for symptoms. "

Snyder says Pierce County has requested help from the Wisconsin National Guard to assist with repeated testing in the facility to ensure any new cases are identified quickly. Residents who have tested positive for the coronavirus have been separated into a different wing of the building.

This is the first outbreak at a care facility in Pierce County since the start of the pandemic. Snyder tells KARE 11 it is likely that the virus was introduced to the facility by an employee who was asymptomatic, but at this point that has not been confirmed. She is effusive in her praise for management at The Lodge at River Falls Comforts of Home and their cooperative response to the outbreak. "They continue to do everything they can to control this," she said. 

Assisted living facilities in Wisconsin have been directed to prepare COVID-19 by implementing the following activities:

Restrict all indoor visitors except for compassionate care situations (for example, end-of-life).

  • Restrict all volunteers and nonessential health care personnel (HCP).
  • Actively screen all HCP for fever and symptoms before starting each shift; send them home if they are ill.
  • Encourage residents who must regularly leave the facility for medically necessary purposes (for example, residents receiving hemodialysis) wear a face mask whenever they leave their room, including for procedures outside of the facility.

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