AUSTIN, Texas - The Austin-Travis County interim health authority has issued updated control orders for nursing homes, assisted living and other long-term care facilities.
The new orders enhance protections against the spread of COVID-19 among vulnerable populations in the event of positive cases and clusters. They also stipulate that if there is a confirmed case in a facility, all patients, staff and next of kin must be notified.
In the event of a cluster involving two or more patients, the facility must:
- restrict receiving new or returning patients until the facility has been cleared by Austin Public Health
- make all clinical staff, non-clinical staff and contractors available for testing if required
A Strike Team of additional personnel and equipment may be deployed to supplement staffing at facilities until the outbreak is controlled as determined by APH. To date, there have been eight outbreaks at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities with 67 staff and 96 residents infected, and 15 resident deaths related to COVID-19.
“It is critical that we continue to look for new avenues to protect our most vulnerable populations,” said Dr. Mark Escott, Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority. “We cannot safely discuss reopening before we have successfully cocooned these vulnerable populations. We must continue to look for additional personal protective equipment, more rapid testing, and increased staffing for nursing homes and long-term care facilities.”
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The updated order requires all individuals entering the facility to wear a surgical face mask or cloth face covering if surgical masks are unavailable. All employees and contractors who require contact with residents within 6 feet must utilize the CDC's recommended Personal Protective Equipment. In accordance with the Stay Home-Work Safe Order, the updated order also includes that only visitors providing critical assistance should be permitted into the facility, and the facility may not admit any individual with a temperature of 99.6 or above.
Proactive efforts to protect vulnerable populations began on March 11 with the initial control order, which outlined proactive measures to avoid spread. Actions mandated in this initial order are still included in the updated order:
- “Help Prevent Disease” signage must be displayed prominently
- Hand sanitizer must be available and supplied to employees, patients, visitors and volunteers
- Facility must symptom and temperature check all employees, patients, visitors and volunteers prior to entry
For more information and updates, visit the Austin COVID-19 website.
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