Globe nursing home sees COVID-19 outbreak, 35 infected

Posted at 10:41 PM, Oct 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-03 19:13:46-04

GLOBE, AZ — The City of Globe is working to control a COVID spike at an Arizona nursing home.

The outbreak, one of the largest at a long-term care facility in months, according to experts.

Gila County confirming to ABC15 Thursday night that at least 35 men and women tested positive this week in a single nursing home. Six of the infections are employees, while 29 are vulnerable residents.

The Gila County Emergency Management Deputy Director said, "it is believed that the outbreak began with an asymptomatic staff member."

Staff and family members confirming that the facility is "Haven of Globe."

"Everyone within our community is interlocked and interlinked," said Colleen Valencia, whose aunt is at Haven. "This is a little bit too close to home."

Valencia says she knows four people, relatives and fellow church members, who live at Haven. She is concerned about their health and the potential spread in town.

"We only have a few [long-term] facilities in our area," said Valencia. "Therefore, it’s going to affect our firefighters, our EMTs, our hospitals. It’s going to affect everybody."

Lorianna Guerrero is impacted firsthand. Her grandfather, Harold, tested positive this week inside Haven.

"They did isolate him," said Guerrero. "I did get to talk with him, and he did tell me not to worry."

But worrying is all many loved ones can do since the facility is now on lockdown.

"It’s horrible not to be able to just reach out and hug them," said Valencia. "These were our teachers in our community. These were our role models."

The rural area has managed to dodge large outbreaks.
Before Thursday, Globe had fewer than 200 cases all year.

"It is a wicked killing machine when it gets into a building," said Dave Voepel, Executive Director of the Arizona Healthcare Association.

Voepel also sits on the state's Task Force on Long Term Care, and said he thinks Haven's numbers represent the largest Arizona outbreak in months - as facilities have been trending in the right direction.

"We’re seeing low numbers. I hope this isn’t a sign of something that we are going to be going through...especially with flu season starting," said Voepel.

The Arizona State Health Department has been allowing in-person visits since early September, based on guidance the Task Force on Long Term Care helped craft.

This week though, ADHS posted an update to their visitation guidance with an effective date of October 1. The new guidance includes new "designated essential visitors," which will make it easier for family, close friends and faith leaders to visit after being tested.

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