Coronavirus strikes care center, county death toll nearly doubles in one week

The local death toll of coronavirus nearly doubled in the past week – to 17 – as eight San Juan County deaths were reported due to the effects of COVID-19.

The largest caseload is due to an outbreak among the staff and the highly vulnerable residents at the Four Corners Regional Care Center in Blanding.

As of July 12, a total of 33 residents and 17 workers at the facility had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

Three care center residents, all men over the age of 80, passed away, including one on July 10 and two on July 11.

Additional fatalities in the past week include a male in his 50s from the Monument Valley area and a male in his 60s from the Blanding area.

San Juan Public Health Director Kirk Benge reports that three of the newly reported fatalities passed away earlier and were only recently verified as being due to or influenced by coronavirus.

They include a female over the age of 85 from the Monument Valley area who passed away in May, a male between 65 and 84 from the Montezuma Creek area who passed away in June, and a female between 65 and 84 from the Monument Valley area who passed away in July.

All three of these prior cases were hospitalized out of state when they passed away.

The San Juan County victims of COVID-19 include 12 men and five women. All have been over the age of 50.

The total number of county residents who have tested positive for the virus jumped by 65 in the past week, to 481. With more than three percent of the entire county population testing positive, San Juan County has one of the highest coronavirus case rates in the United States.

Of the 481 positive cases, 377 patients are considered recovered.

There are 87 active cases in the county, including 40 in the Blanding area, 20 in the Monument Valley area, 12 in the Montezuma Creek area, nine in the Monticello area, and six in the Bluff area.

The Four Corners Regional Care Center generally has about 50 residents and 60 employees.

The virus spread rapidly through the facility, with the number of positive tests among residents increasing from one on June 28 to 50 in a matter of days.

Despite aggressive efforts to stop the spread of the virus, it spread throughout the facility.

All residents and staff have been tested for COVID-19 and have received the results.

A secure wing of the facility has been designated to care for and treat residents who have tested positive. It is separate from the rest of the building and residents.

In addition, the Care Center reports that staff and essential medical personnel are fully outfitted with personal protective equipment (PPE), as needed.

The Care Center reports that “most residents who have tested positive have mild symptoms or are asymptomatic.”

The staff members who work at the facility and who have tested positive are quarantining in their own homes.

The Care Center continues to work closely with the Utah Department of Health and the Bureau of Epidemiology and said they follow all the recommended protocols regarding the treatment, care, and safety of all residents and staff.

The Care Center reports they have been “verbally contacting all residents, resident families, POAs, and staff” to inform them of the positive tests.

The facility has been on restricted access since March 13, 2020 and continues to prohibit visitors. Only essential staff and medical personnel who pass a medical screening are allowed in the facility. No visitors have entered the facility since that date.

The northern portion of the county is in a yellow advisory status, while the Navajo Nation portion of the county continues in red status.

San Juan Record

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