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Health

Coronavirus Outbreak Hits Humboldt County Assisted Living Facility

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Humboldt County’s first coronavirus-related deaths have come from an outbreak at an assisted living facility.

Seven residents of the Alder Bay Assisted Living Facility in Eureka have been confirmed to have the coronavirus. Two of those residents have died. Four staff members have also tested positive for the virus.

The assisted living facility is requiring staff members and residents to wear gowns, face masks, and face shields. Residents can’t leave the facility for non-emergency purposes and they can’t have visitors.

Assisted living facilities and nursing homes throughout the country have been hit hard by the coronavirus because it’s difficult to practice social distancing in a shared space and seniors are particularly vulnerable to serious illnesses.

The California Department of Public Health has stepped in and is monitoring the facility, according to Humboldt County Public Health Officer Teresa Frankovich.

In a recorded video, Frankovich says these recent cases won’t have a significant impact on the county’s decision to reopen some businesses.

“No single piece of data dictates us moving forward,” Frankovich says. “The deaths are obviously difficult for us and sobering as we move forward, but in terms of our local situation, we need to take in the full context of what’s going on in the community.”

County officials will consider hospital capacity, contact tracing and the number of new cases before making decisions about reopening, Frankovich says. Humboldt County has allowed some non-essential businesses to reopen, but only after they get county approval. The county mandates that all adults need to wear face masks in public.

Meanwhile, the Alder Bay facility has several staff members out sick because of the coronavirus. Some have quit because they were concerned about contracting the illness. That has left the remaining staff members with long working hours — but administrator Mark Stephenson says they’re they’re holding strong.

“They’re working a lot of days in between a day off,” Stephenson says. “And their morale’s been good because they’re of the heart and mind of, this is where we’re at right now. This is what we have to do.”