Social Distancing Minimizes COVID-19 Spread in Assisted Living

older patient in wheelchair pushed by nurse
Early introduction of social distancing minimizes spread in senior independent and assisted living facility.

HealthDay News — Early implementation of social distancing and preventive measures after identification of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) can minimize virus spread in senior independent and assisted living communities, according to research published in the April 3 early-release issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Alison C. Roxby, M.D., from the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues describe an outbreak of COVID-19 in a senior independent and assisted living community in Seattle.

The researchers note that two residents of the facility were hospitalized with COVID-19 infection during March 5 to 9, 2020. Social distancing and other preventive measures were implemented in the community on March 6, 2020. All residents and staff members were tested for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) on March 10 and were administered a questionnaire about their symptoms; residents were tested seven days later. Three of 80 residents and two of 62 staff members (3.8 and 3.2 percent, respectively) tested during the initial phase had positive test results. No symptoms were reported by these residents at the time of testing, although one reported an earlier cough. A fourth resident tested negative but had positive test results seven days later; this resident was asymptomatic.

“The findings from this investigation underscore the importance of SARS-CoV-2 mitigation measures, including social distancing, visitor restriction, resident and staff member testing, exclusion of ill staff members, and enhanced disinfection and hygiene practices, which are consistent with current CDC guidance for preventing transmission of COVID-19 in independent and assisted living communities,” the authors write.

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