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Coronavirus reaches nursing homes, care facilities in Comal County

Comal County Public Health reports coronavirus cases in multiple closed communities. Both residents and staff have tested positive for the virus.

COMAL COUNTY, Texas — Cases of coronavirus continue to climb across Texas. In Comal County, at least 24 people are in the hospital and more than 300 additional patients are fighting the virus at home.

Health experts are also starting to see cases at nursing homes and other care facilities in the area.

Monday, The Heights of Bulverde, a rehabilitation and nursing facility, reported 27 residents, 13 team members and one contract healthcare worker have tested positive for the virus.

“Numerous residents who tested positive have no, or only mild, signs and symptoms,” said Dr. Melody Chatelle, a spokesperson for the facility.

As of Monday, eight residents were in the hospital.

“We especially appreciate everyone understanding that cases in Texas have skyrocketed in all types of locations, which means we must all work together to decrease exposure for those we serve,” said Chatelle. “We are especially grateful for our dedicated team members who are relentless in their commitment to care for our residents and patients. Our team members continue to demonstrate extraordinary and heroic efforts during this unprecedented situation."

The facility has put health and safety measures in place during the crisis.

"All hyper-vigilant measures and polices concerning the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be in place: screening of all, only essential visits, no communal dining or activities, use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and many other infection control measures. Additionally our COVID-19 unit has been fully operationalized,” said Chatelle.

Comal County Public Health also reported coronavirus cases at the River Gardens.

The New Braunfels site is an Intermediate Care facility serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

As of Saturday, Comal County reported at least 32 River Gardens residents and 10 staff members tested positive.

“Just as the rest of our state is experiencing a spike in COVID-19 cases, we are also challenged with slowing the spread of the coronavirus. We are taking all possible measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within the facility including separating those who have tested positive from those who are symptomatic and awaiting test results and from those who are not affected,” said Mark Lashley, CEO of Caregiver, the parent company to River Gardens. “Additionally, we are sheltering in place, limiting visitors, conducting symptom and temperature screenings, conducting rigorous disinfection protocols, and requiring personal protective equipment be used. We are proud of our professional team members dedicated to providing the best care for members of our community’s most vulnerable population.”

The Comal County Public Health Director is urging everyone to social distance, wear a mask and to frequently wash hands.

“Between the rise in hospitalizations and the increase in cases among at-risk and closed communities, Comal County is facing a new challenge from COVID-19,” said Public Health Director Cheryl Fraser. “To avoid overtaxing our health care system and endangering the most vulnerable members of our community, it’s imperative that we all work together to limit the spread of coronavirus.”

Last month, the New Braunfels and Bulverde-Spring Branch Fire Departments swabbed more than 1,400 assisted living residents and staff throughout Comal County.

All but one test came back negative.

The positive was a contract healthcare worker at Edenhill Communities in New Braunfels.

The site has since announced three staff members testing positive but so far, no residents have been reported sick with the virus.

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