California Nursing Home Reports Two Coronavirus Deaths, 72 Infections in Same City Where Hundreds Protested Lockdown

Two people have died from the coronavirus and 72 others have tested positive at a nursing home in Huntington Beach, California, days after hundreds of people gathered in the city to call for lockdown measures to be lifted.

The Huntington Valley Healthcare Center said that 72 people—48 patients and 24 staff members—have tested positive for COVID-19 The facility has about 100 residents, meaning nearly half are infected. The care center also has around 100 staff members.

According to The Los Angeles Times, 14 of the sickened patients are in hospital, but their condition wasn't immediately known, while the remainder are in isolation at the facility.

One of the infected patients—a 77-year-old man—died in hospital on Monday night and another patient—a 79-year-old man—died at the nursing home on Tuesday evening, the newspaper reported.

Huntington Beach
A sign explaining the closure of the Huntington Beach Pier is seen on March 24, 2020 in Huntington Beach, California. Getty Images/Michael Heiman

Employees who tested positive are self-isolating at home with minor symptoms. According to the Times, colleagues who worked alongside those who tested positive are continuing to go into work as long as they don't show symptoms.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to their family of those who lost their lives from COVID-19. Our top priority remains the health and well-being of everyone in our facility," Sarah Bates, an administrator at Huntington Valley Healthcare Center, said in a statement to Newsweek. "This incident underscores the service and sacrifices made by our dedicated team every day. We're grateful for their continued efforts."

Huntington Valley Healthcare Center describes itself as "the premier 24-hour skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility in the city of Huntington Beach" on its website and says its staff are "highly trained and experienced in caring for high-acuity patients and infectious diseases similar to COVID-19."

The facility, near Huntington Beach Hospital, said it introduced a series of additional "stringent" safety protocols on March 11, including restricting access to the building to essential medical personnel.

Additional protocols include restrictions on visitors, screening of staff and medical visitors, curtailing communal activities, increasingly disinfection procedures and monitoring patients more frequently.

The Times reported that around 10 days ago, the facility created a COVID-19 isolation unit and staff working there were provided with N95 respirator masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE). Staff working in other areas of the facility were given standard surgical masks, gloves and other PPE.

"We've been vigilant and early for weeks in adopting the practices and protocols that have been directed by Centers for Disease Control, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, state and county guidance to protect the frail and vulnerable residents entrusted to our care," Bates added.

A number of coronavirus outbreaks have been reported at skilled nursing facilities across California, according to health officials.

Despite this, around 200 people gathered in Huntington Beach on Friday, according to ABC News, calling for stay-at-home measures imposed to curb the spread of the virus to be lifted. They included one protester who was pictured wielding a sign that said "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" outside a Baskin Robbins store.

Rallies calling for restrictions to be eased have also broken out in numerous other states, including Colorado, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota, Kentucky and Tennessee.

California now has 33,261 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and 1,268 deaths, according to the California Department of Public Health.

This article has been updated with information and comments from Huntington Valley Healthcare Center.

This infographic, provided by Statista, shows the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases around the U.S. as of April 22.

Statista
This infographic shows the number of COVID-19 cases across the U.S. as of April 22. Statista

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html)
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.