City of AustinFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The sites will provide patients a secure place to recover while keeping others safe.
The City of Austin and Travis County are stepping up actions to protect those most susceptible to catching and being hospitalized by COVID-19. A new Austin Public Health Task Force for Nursing Homes is setting up sites to house nursing home patients who test positive for COVID-19 but do not need hospitalization or who have been discharged.
These initial nursing home isolation facilities, featuring approximately 100 beds, will provide COVID-19 patients a secure place to recover while keeping other nursing home residents and staff safe. One of the locations is expected to be operational soon and will be available for incoming patients – potentially including two nursing home residents who tested positive late last week. The investigation into how the two hospitalized patients were exposed to the virus is still ongoing.
Austin Public Health is asking healthy people in Austin-Travis County to do more to safeguard the welfare of the area’s older population after figures showed that nearly half of those testing positive for COVID-19 are aged between 20 and 40.
While COVID-19 causes only mild illness for most people, it poses a significant danger to vulnerable populations, including older people and those who have underlying health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and lung disease. Across the United States, people aged 65 and over make up almost half (45%) of hospitalizations and 80% of deaths associated with COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
For people who are young and healthy, the chief concern is the risk that they will spread the virus to others. In Austin-Travis County, the number of people 65 and over is estimated to be 132,000 – about 10% of the population.
“Even if you are young, or otherwise healthy, you are at risk and your activities can increase the risk for others,” said Dr. Mark Escott, interim health authority for Austin-Travis County. “It is critical that you do your part to slow the spread of this virus.”
APH began taking proactive measures to avoid spread in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes, on March 11 through a Health Authority Control Order. The Order mandated several specified actions including temperature-checking all employees, patients, visitors and volunteers prior to entry to facilities.
People at higher risk of getting severe symptoms from COVID-19 should:
- Ensure adequate supplies of medication and essentials.
- Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others.
- When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact and wash your hands often.
- Avoid gatherings as much as possible.
- Avoid cruise travel and non-essential air travel.
Austin Public Health is continuing to ask the wider community to take every day preventative actions to stop the spread of disease, including:
- Wash your hands.
- Cover sneezes and coughs with a bent elbow or tissue.
- Avoid touching your face.
- Stay home when you’re sick.
- Don’t visit a loved one in a nursing home if you are experiencing symptoms. If you are a caretaker, be sure to establish a plan in the event you are sick.
For more information and updates, visit www.AustinTexas.gov/COVID19.