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Maricopa County saving personal protective equipment for long-term care facilities

Federal government empties stockpile of personal protection equipment
Posted at 5:08 PM, Apr 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-06 23:58:56-04

As of April 6, there are 10 deaths, 66 positive cases inside 22 long-term care facilities in Maricopa County.

Officials with the county's emergency management and public health said in a press conference on Monday that they will begin reporting outbreaks inside these type of facilities, but will not release the name of the individual facility.

This is the first time a county has reported deaths inside a long-term care facility that includes skilled nursing facilities, nursing homes, assisted living and hospice care.

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With reported cases now inside care facilities, Maricopa County plans to prioritize their shipment of personal protective equipment from the national stockpile.

"Although helpful, these allocations are nowhere close to what is needed in a community of our size," said Marcy Flanagan, director of Maricopa County Department of Public Health.

Flanagan said in a press conference that hospital systems here use around 544,000 surgical masks per week. However, in their three shipments from the national stockpile they received a total of 263, 480 surgical masks. This will not even be enough supplies for one week.

To prioritize their PPE, Maricopa County will save the final allocation for the 500 long term care facilities in the Valley.

"What we have learned from states like Washington is that when a case of COVID-19 is identified in a long term care facility, there is greater risk of severe disease and spread due to the age and overall health of people living in these facilities and the fact they often dine and do activities together," said Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, medical director for disease control at Maricopa County Department of Public Health.

MCDPH has been working directly with facilities where an outbreak occurs on infection control recommendations, including having residents restricted to their rooms, even for meals and strict isolation precautions for anyone with symptoms.

"Further, CDC has recommended that in facilities that identify even one case of COVID-19, that every single patient should be put in isolation precautions," said Sunenshine.

The workers inside the long-term care facilities will have to wear gloves, gown, a mask, and eye shield every time they walk into a room of any resident.

"This is why we have made the decision to prioritize PPE for long-term care facilities that have confirmed COVID-19 cases," said Dr. Sunenshine.