WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas - On April 23, members of the Williamson County Rapid Response Viral Strike Team worked an outbreak in a Round Rock nursing home.
Images show team members wearing white protective gear while in the building. The scene was like walking into a wildfire or into a natural disaster.
“We built a dam very quickly,” said team leader Amy Jarosek, who spoke to FOX7 Thursday about the effort to control the situation. "It all happened very rapidly which is scary and also reassuring in how our team was able to go in there and get that done as quickly as we could."
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The outbreak happened at the Trinity Care Center in Round Rock, operated by Caraday Healthcare. Jarosek said she was at the center only to deliver new safety orders, but everything changed when the manager told her a resident had tested positive for COVID-19. "That visit took place in the afternoon that day and by I believe 8 p.m. that evening our team was on-site,” said Jarosek.
As of Monday, company officials report 49 residents have tested positive for COVID-19 as well as 21 employees. One resident died and the center remains a hot spot.
"I always feel one life is too many to lose, however, I do feel like you have to look at the big picture and see we did provide a very prompt response to a situation and that by going in that quickly and testing all of those individuals we were able to provide direction to the facility to isolate individuals that needed to be isolated so the spread would be slowed,” said Jarosek.
The source of the outbreak in Round Rock has not been announced. Since the Round Rock incident, the team has worked to contain a smaller COVID-19 cluster at a facility in Georgetown. "I think we are doing what needs to be done right now, and we are doing a great job of it, but I don't know if we are heroes,” said Jarosek.
During Tuesday's commissioner's court meeting Jarosek was praised by Judge Bill Gravell. “Without her leadership, I'm not sure where those two different complexes would be,” he said during the Tuesday meeting.
Jarosek said she considers the residents who are stepping up and helping during the crisis are heroes to her. She praised those on the county's Mask Brigade. Her team delivered 700 to local nursing homes Wednesday and took out another 300 masks on Thursday.
"I always have a difficult time and get a little humbled with the Judge's words about us saving lives and being heroes, however, I do think, the team as a whole, definitely went in and mitigate a situation that could have gotten a lot worse,” said Jarosek.
The Williamson County Viral Strike Team is made up of 30 paramedics as well as personnel from the Health District and The Office of Emergency Management. There's also an eight-person inspection team, which gets help from local fire departments. They have ramped up visits to all 62 nursing homes, assisted living and memory care facilities in the county.
"We should finish initial inspections of all of the facilities by Friday of this week,” said Jarosek.
A lot of improvements have been made in a short time at senior living facilities in the county, according to Jarosek. They now have better access to on-site equipment and the facilities have a better understanding of how to comply with safety guidelines.
FOX 7 Austin is working to keep you up to date with coronavirus, with both local and national developments. Every weekday we're live at 12 p.m. with a special show reporting the latest news, prevention tips and treatment information.
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