Five Brownsville nursing home residents virus infected

BROWNSVILLE — Five nursing home residents in Brownsville have contracted the COVID-19 virus after a hospital transferred a patient who showed no virus symptoms there, officials said.

The patient, about 70 to 75 years old, who was transferred back to the hospital after testing positive for the virus at Spanish Meadows nursing home.

At Spanish Meadows, Administrator Ricardo Rodriguez said the patient is believed to have carried the virus into the nursing home.

“This is very hard,” Rodriguez said late Tuesday afternoon. “This is uncharted territory. We have to really, really be careful. We were working so hard to stay pure.”

Now, Cameron County public health officials are investigating the manner in which the virus entered Spanish Meadows, Esmeralda Guajardo, the county’s health administrator, said.

As of Monday, she said, five patients had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, while 95 had tested negative.

Rodriguez said two patients were transferred to Valley Baptist Medical Center while another was taken to Valley Regional Medical Center.

“From what I understand, they are ill in the COVID unit,” he said.

Guajardo said the nursing home’s staff is trying to contain the virus.

“That’s excellent considering how fast and silent this virus is,” she said of the nursing home residents’ rate of transmission. “They are doing an excellent job.”

Meanwhile, no employees had tested positive while 90 had tested negative with 45 test results pending, Guajardo and Rodriguez said.

On Friday, Rodriguez said a patient between 70 and 75, who had shown no virus symptoms, had been transferred to the nursing home from a hospital before being tested for the virus and placed in isolation.

After testing positive, the patient was transferred back to the hospital, he said.

Abbott orders nursing home testing

On Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an order mandating the state health department to test all of the state’s nursing home patients and staffs.

“The state of Texas is working to rapidly expand our testing capacity — especially among vulnerable populations in Texas nursing homes,” Abbott stated in a press release.

Abbott issued the order based on federal guidelines “to ensure that any potential clusters of COVID-19 cases in nursing homes are quickly detected and contained,” the press release stated.

Meanwhile, nursing homes determine whether to accept hospital patients.

“Transmission-based precautions are still required,” according to protocol Guajardo released Tuesday. “They should go to a facility with ability to adhere to infection prevention and control recommendations for the care of COVID-19 patients. Preferably, the patient would be placed in a location designated to care for COVID-19 residents.”

Harlingen nursing home cases

Last month’s COVID-19 outbreak at two Harlingen nursing homes had led to 20 related deaths as of Monday.

Meanwhile, a county investigation found a health care worker carried the coronavirus into Veranda Rehabilitation and Healthcare before taking the virus into Windsor Atrium, Guajardo said.

As of Monday, 60 Veranda residents, including 10 who have died, and 32 employees have tested positive for the virus, a county press release stated Monday.

At Windsor Atrium, 57 residents and 32 employees have tested positive, including 10 who have died as a result of their link to the nursing home, the press release stated.

In Cameron County, the Harlingen nursing home outbreak accounts for about 35 percent of a total of 527 COVID-19 cases reported as of Monday.

County, city nursing home orders

Last month, the outbreak led County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr. to issue an emergency management order aimed at setting nursing homes procedures aimed at preventing the spread of the virus.

Days earlier, Dr. Michael Mohan, Harlingen’s newly appointed health authority, issued orders prohibiting the city’s nursing homes and rehabilitation centers from sharing health care staff and transferring residents to other facilities.

fdelvalle@valleystar.com