Kirkwood Manor

Kirkwood Manor Senior Living Facility MIKALA COMPTON | Herald-Zeitung

In the last 10 days Comal County’s COVID-19 death toll has soared from 9 to 29, fueled in large part by outbreaks in residential care facilities where some of those most vulnerable live.

On July 3, Comal County officials announced the death of a Canyon Lake man in his 80s, the ninth COVID-19 death in the county. On Monday, July 13, officials announced seven new COVID-19 deaths — the 23rd through 29th — including three residents of Kirkwood Manor in New Braunfels, which has now seen seven deaths from the pandemic.

The latest residents to die included a man in his 80s who died at the facility on Saturday and a woman in her 90s who died there Sunday. A third, officials say, was a man in his 80s who died in a New Braunfels hospital on Tuesday, but his death wasn’t reported to the county’s public health office until Friday evening.

The county announced death No. 22 on Saturday afternoon, a Kirkwood Manor woman in her 90s with underlying health conditions, who died there on Friday. Officials say the facility has reported 48 cases of COVID-19 that involved 32 residents and 16 staffers. Three are still hospitalized in addition to the seven deaths.

The other four deaths announced Monday didn’t have connections to residential-care facilities, with each of them dying in New Braunfels hospitals.

Friday’s deaths included a man in his 80s from the north side of Canyon Lake; a man in his 60s from New Braunfels and a man in his 70s from the south side of Canyon Lake. A woman in her 50s from New Braunfels died on Saturday.

County health officials said it’s not yet known whether the deaths announced Monday included those with underlying medical conditions.

Special focus

As the outbreaks have blossomed in residential-care facilities throughout the area, Comal County and city of New Braunfels officials have been working to provide any assistance they can, from additional personal protection equipment to connecting them with state resources.

County Judge Sherman Krause commented on a productive Zoom meeting held last week with administrators at those facilities, which concluded with all agreeing to keep that dialogue open.

Those who need personal protective equipment and other resources can call 830-221-4618 to request them.

County officials have been releasing reported information about COVID-19 cases at facilities and service providers across the area. On Monday that included:

• River Gardens, New Braunfels: 80 cases (58 residents, 22 staff), 1 death, 3 hospitalized

• Colonial Manor, New Braunfels: 58 cases (32 residents, 26 staff), 3 hospitalized

• The Heights of Bulverde: 57 cases (33 residents, 24 staff), 6 deaths

• Kirkwood Manor, New Braunfels: 48 cases (32 residents, 16 staff), 7 deaths, 3 hospitalized

• Hope Hospice, New Braunfels: 7 cases (staff)

• Legend Oaks, New Braunfels: 3 cases (1 resident, 2 staff), 1 death

• Sundance Inn, New Braunfels: 3 cases (staff)

• EdenHill, New Braunfels: 2 cases, both hospice workers

• Elan Westpointe, New Braunfels: 1 case (staff)

• Advanced Home Health Services: 1 case (staff)

While many facilities have taken special precautions including closing visitation, the staff that work there still have opportunities to be infected without knowing it, Paul Anthony, Comal County’s Public Information Officer said. That makes the actions of the people around them particularly important.

“Staff can still catch COVID-19 from restaurant workers, grocery store clerks, friends, family and neighbors, and then carry it into nursing homes without realizing they have it,” Anthony said. “As we’ve stressed repeatedly throughout the pandemic, following social distancing guidelines — including wearing a mask — is not just to protect yourself; it’s to protect others to whom you might unknowingly transmit a deadly disease, and those to whom they might in turn transmit it. Just because you never get sick doesn’t mean you can’t infect others, including truly vulnerable members of our community."

New cases releasing Tuesday

In keeping with its recent process, county officials didn’t update weekend test and case numbers on Monday. They said the newest information, which will be released on Tuesday, will not include data reflecting the last week or two.

“COVID-19 is so widespread in our community that the actions we take now will take some time to show up in the data. We see days of lag time between infection and the onset of symptoms, plus as long as a month between symptom onset and death in the most serious cases,” said Cheryl Fraser, Comal County public health director.

“That means the steps we take today are preventing deaths a month from now, and the cases and deaths we’re seeing today are the result of actions not taken in June.”

Office open

On Monday the public health office reopened to the public; hours are by appointment only weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Those needing non-coronavirus-related services, such as immunizations, can call 830-221-1150.

Residents wishing to be tested for COVID-19 can call the county’s dedicated hotline, 830-221-1120, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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(1) comment

Quincy Adams

The Comal County Health Dept is doing a great job trying to gather and report the Covid testing stats given their resource starved circumstances. Comal County is overrun with wide community spread, lack of testing resources and slow lab turnaround time. Because of this, there is virtually no chance to trace and isolate. Even if they had those resources, the community spread and new daily cases need to be reduced significantly before you can test, trace and isolate. The only way to do that is mandatory masks. The CDC now believes Covid cases could be 40% asymptomatic. Almost half. Unless these people are wearing masks, new infections will continue to grow dangerously larger.

This country, under the disastrous leadership of Trump, has been an epic failure compared to the rest of the world. Europe and other advanced countries have bent the curve down and brought their daily new cases down dramatically. We on the other hand, threw in the towel after growing tired of the fight and are now setting new daily records. For example, Germany is averaging 340 new cases a day compared to our 62,243 new cases a day. On a per capita basis, our infection rate is 46 times greater. Until we begin doing the things they have done, our inexcusably high number of deaths and struggling economy will continue to get worse.

It is a false choice to think you can open the economy up without the discipline of proven successful rules; such as mandatory masks, social distancing, enough testing, tracing and isolating, etc. We have proven that does not work and other countries are proving the scientific approach works. Because our hospitals are being overrun and the death rate is shooting up, fear and panic will drive people to hunker down even more and the economy will suffer even worse.

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