The Reutlinger Community, the Jewish senior home in Danville, reported Sept. 4 that two residents had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Executive director Jay Zimmer wrote to J. on Wednesday that both residents “are doing quite well” and “remained relatively asymptomatic throughout.”
One of the residents, who lives in the assisted-living unit, was “cleared” this week, Zimmer said, meaning they completed their 14-day isolation period and had not exhibited any symptoms “in the last 72-hours of their isolation period,” Zimmer wrote.
The other resident lives in Reutlinger’s memory care unit and remained in isolation as of Wednesday, according to an update on the senior home’s website.
Reutlinger has closed both units to visitors and to new admissions following the positive tests. The skilled nursing facility is also closed to visitors pending a county health inspection Friday.
Visits and new move-ins will resume only after 14 consecutive days of “100% negative results” among residents and staff, who are tested weekly.
“We are very sorry for this inconvenience,” Zimmer wrote in the update. “Unfortunately Contra Costa County has the 3rd highest rate of infection in the Bay area, which directly affects our community.”
The announcement of positive Covid-19 virus tests at Reutlinger, which houses up to 180 seniors, comes as the pandemic continues to disproportionately harm residents and staff of nursing homes, who have accounted for more than 40 percent of Covid-19 deaths nationwide, according to the New York Times.
In Contra Costa County the disparity is more pronounced. About 58 percent of Covid-19 deaths in the county — 108 out of 187 — were linked to long-term care facilities according to updated figures this week from the county health department.
Two outbreaks in particular devastated senior care facilities earlier this summer. In Walnut Creek, 92 residents tested positive for the novel coronavirus and 17 died of Covid-19 at the ManorCare Health Services–Tice Valley nursing home, according to state public health figures. In Concord, 65 residents tested positive and 20 died of the disease at the San Miguel Villa nursing home.
There were 23 active outbreaks as of Thursday at long-term care facilities in Contra Costa County, according to the county health department, defined as a skilled nursing facility with one or more positive patients, or “another congregate facility” with two or more positive residents or staff.
The positive cases at Reutlinger also come during a transition period for the senior living center. In April, board members finalized a deal to transfer management to Eskaton, a nondenominational regional senior care provider. Until the mid-’90s, Reutlinger had been owned by the Jewish Federation of the East Bay before its incorporation as an independent nonprofit.
In a phone call Wednesday, Eskaton CEO Todd Murch said he could not provide details on the residents’ health condition due to privacy laws. He touted efforts by Reutlinger staff to battle and contain the virus throughout the course of the pandemic.
“It’s been six months now. The fact they have had so few cases is just a real tribute to the effort of the employees, and the communication by [Jay Zimmer] and the leadership staff down there,” he said.
Murch said that health care workers and other staff at the home “have been trying to stay safe in their own personal time off, so they don’t bring it back into the building.”
“With all the buildings in our system, and I’m on boards and associations around the state, the Reutlinger is just doing an exemplary job of keeping it out,” he continued.
In an email earlier in the day, Murch emphasized that the company remained in compliance with local and federal health directives, that the two cases were “individual and did not spread,” that the organization has “maintained sufficient [personal protective equipment] for employees” and that Reutlinger “will remain diligent in its enforcement of infection control protocols.”