City issues health order for long-term care facilities as coronavirus hits nursing homes

The Long Beach Health Department on Wednesday issued a new health order mandating a range of protocols meant to slow the spread of coronavirus in the city’s nursing homes.

Long-term care facilities have been hard hit by the highly contagious virus. Of the 379 positive cases reported Wednesday, 84 have been associated with five long-term care facilities. So far, 13 of the city’s 18 deaths have been associated with the facilities. A sixth facility, Royal Care Skilled Nursing Center, reported two positive cases on Tuesday, but it is not yet included in the city’s totals.

In a news conference Wednesday, City Health Officer Dr. Anissa Davis said officials are working closely with 93 long-term care facilities in Long Beach to protect vulnerable residents.

In addition to mandating tighter visitation policies and daily temperature screenings, the city is also prioritizing lab testing for both residents and staff and providing personal protective equipment for facilities that do not have sufficient supplies, she said.

The order applies to facilities serving individuals 65 years and older or those with underlying health conditions.

“It’s our belief we can slow the spread in long-term care facilities,” she said.

The order, which went in to effect Wednesday, mandates the following:

  • Limited entry – Only employees, first responders, medical professionals or maintenance workers are allowed. All visitors are prohibited. End of life visits are allowed with limitations. Virtual visits are allowed.
  • Face coverings – All staff must wear surgical masks at all times in the facility. When outside their room, residents must wear a surgical mask or a cloth face covering. Surgical masks are required for all patients with symptoms.
  • Temperature screenings – Daily temperature checks are required for all staff and residents. Anyone entering the facility must undergo a temperature screening and self-evaluation for COVID-19 symptoms.

The order applies to all Licensed Congregate Facilities, including:

  • Adult Residential Care Facilities (ARF) of all license types
  • Chronic Dialysis Clinics
  • Continuing Care Retirement Communities
  • Hospice Facilities
  • Intermediate Care Facilities of all license types
  • Psychiatric Health Facilities
  • Residential Care Facilities for the elderly
  • Residential Facilities for the chronically ill
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities
  • Social Rehabilitation Facilities
  • Long-Term Care Facilities

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Kelly Puente is an award-winning general assignment and special projects reporter at the Long Beach Post. She has worked as a journalist in Long Beach since 2006, covering everything from education and crime to courts and breaking news. Kelly previously worked at the Long Beach Press-Telegram and the Orange County Register before joining the Post in 2018. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public policy and administration at Cal State Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected].