Jacksonville senior living facility staffer tests positive for COVID-19

Facility’s executive director notes that no one else has tested positive

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An employee at a Jacksonville senior living facility has tested positive for novel coronavirus, the facility told residents and visitors this week.

The facility, Wyndham Lakes on Old St. Augustine Road, said Friday it is now following federal and state health guidelines to prevent the respiratory illness from spreading.

Executive director Rebecca Matheny said the employee involved is doing well at home, and expressed confidence that she will be able to return to work down the road.

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In a letter Tuesday, Matheny said the facility is working with the health department to “investigate one employee who has tested positive for COVID-19.”

She went on to say that facility staff are wearing masks and adhering to strict hand-washing procedures to limit further transmission of novel coronavirus.

“The employee was working in a segregated area of the community which limits the potential exposure to other residents and staff,” Matheny told News4Jax on Friday.

She noted that no additional residents and staff have been diagnosed with the virus.

The state has reported 53 cases and nine deaths among long-term care facility staff and residents in Duval County. The county has a total of 794 cases and 14 deaths.

Brian Lee, executive director of Families For Better Care, a nonprofit advocacy group, said those living at long-term care facilities are the “most vulnerable population.”

“What we do know is that it’s more fatal for this age group, this population, than it is for pretty much everybody else,” Lee told News4Jax in a FaceTime interview.

He’s not wrong.

One in five COVID-19 deaths in Florida is linked to long-term care facilities, the state says, and people ages 65 and up make up 82 percent of the statewide death toll.

Lee said while it’s a good thing senior living facilities are following guidelines and taking steps to keep residents and staff safe and healthy, he said more needs to be done.

“It’s only a band-aid solution of the overarching problem that needs to fix this for assisted-living facilities across the state, and national, too,” Lee said.

“Until the testing happens across-the-board universally in all these facilities for all residents and staff, it’s just a total guessing game on who has the coronavirus, and it will continue to spread in these facilities unfortunately,” he added.

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