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Coronavirus Update: Newsom Launches Medical SWAT Teams To Stem 'Golden Wave' Of Senior Care Facility Outbreaks

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- With growing outbreaks of coronavirus in the senior care facilities across the San Francisco Bay Area and the state, Gov. Gavin Newsom has launched SWAT teams of infectious disease experts to stem what he called a "Golden Wave" of infections among staff and elderly residents.

During his daily coronavirus news conference Friday, Newsom addressed the growing concern over the outbreaks among the most vulnerable Californians to the disease.

He said there were 1,224 major senior care facilities in the state with health officials monitoring outbreaks and infections at 191. Among those sites reporting coronavirus, 1,266 individuals -- staffer members and residents -- have tested positive for the illness.

At the state's 7,464 smaller senior board and care homes, 94 were being monitored with a total of 370 residents and staffers testing positive.

"You may consider those numbers and say that sounds relatively modest," Newsom said. "That doesn't show the entire picture. There have been some appropriate headlines about certain areas of the state of California and specific facilities that have become hot spots. Where we have seen a disproportionate number of people contracting the disease and number of people tragically passing away. What we have done ... is put in new guidelines that have been backed up by staff, what I would refer to them as SWAT teams of infectious disease control professionals, working with the CDC and others, to saturate those areas of concern and focus."

Just on Friday a number of Bay Area senior care facilities reported growing outbreaks.

Alameda County health officials reported new coronavirus cases and deaths at two East Bay nursing homes that have been heavily impacted by outbreaks.

At Gateway Care and Rehabilitation Center in Hayward, officials reported 9 deaths, up 2 from the 7 reported Thursday. 41 residents and 25 staff at the facility have tested positive for COVID-19 for a total of 66 cases with one new additional case from the previous day.


At East Bay Post-Acute Healthcare Center in Castro Valley, there were no deaths as of Friday. 15 residents and 21 staff tested positive for COVID-19 for a total of 36 infections, up 5 from Thursday's total of 31.

Meanwhile, Contra Costa health officials reported another resident death amid a growing outbreak of coronavirus at two senior care facilities in their county.

The county reported 21 people have been infected at Carlton Senior Living at 175 Cleaveland Road in downtown Pleasant Hill. Eight of those confirmed positive are residents and 13 are staff members. In addition, CCHS said a second person has died at Orinda Care Center, where earlier this week 50 people had tested positive for COVID-19.

CCHS said it was working closely with management of the senior living facilities to contain the spread of the virus.  The county said both CCHS and John Muir Health have provided infection control guidance as well as PPE supplies for residents and staff, and was working to offer COVID-19 testing.

"We have put more personnel, more technical assistance, focusing on infectious disease control and really doing what we can to decompress that entire system (senior care)," Newsom said. "When someone is tested positive, or a cohort of patients in these facilities, and or staffer test positive, we can quickly identify those individuals, isolate, quarantine, and ultimately trace and track the pattern of the infection."

The governor also said a plan has been developed to evacuate senior facilities and not to the stressed state's hospital system. The U.S. Navy hospital ship Mercy docked in Los Angeles was being converted for elderly care. The state has also identified seven other sites within California where elderly residents can be moved.

"One of the top priorities of this state is preparing for what some have referred to as the 'Golden Wave' in the state of California," he said. "This state has a disproportionate number of aging individuals."

The governor was also working to give financial assistance to licensed practical nurses and certified nursing assistants how work at the senior care facilities. In addition to being able to tap into a new hotel/motel vouching system, those health care providers will be give a $500 stipend from money donated to the state by Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan.

Newsom also revealed that the state had set up call centers to check up on senior centers.

"We are making calls in an unprecedented way," he said. "It's not an exaggeration, (we have) 1,500 field officers every single day, calling every single nursing facility in the state."

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