An investigation by Victoria County public health officials will play an important role in limiting the danger of a second, recently discovered new coronavirus outbreak.
“The work of the epidemiological team … is to mitigate and stop those effects as soon as we can so it doesn’t affect the healthcare system as a whole and is really isolated to one facility,” said David Gonzales, director of the Victoria County Public Health Department, at a Friday news conference.
At least 11 patients and staff members at the southeast facility have been identified as being infected with COVID-19. Seven of those people are Victoria County residents.
At least 44 people were diagnosed with the disease in that first outbreak.
Friday, one more person was reported to have the new coronavirus, bringing Victoria County’s total number of people infected to 115.
Two people have died from the disease, and 69 have recovered in Victoria County.
About 36.5% of the county’s total number people infected have been connected with either PAM outbreak.
Although PAM’s southeast location is located on the sixth floor of Citizens Medical Center, 2701 Hospital Drive, Gonzales and hospital representatives have said the outbreak has remained isolated to that facility.
An investigation by the county’s epidemiological team will assist public health officials in ensuring the virus has not spread to the hospital, Gonzales said.
County public health officials are unsure how the outbreak occurred, but Gonzales said that could be determined by investigators.
But first, he said, investigators will work to complete contact tracing of all of those infected there. That process entails interviewing infected people to determine who they may have infected and what places they might have exposed to the virus.
“We’re trying to identify those close contacts and those high-risk contacts and isolate them. Especially with the positive cases, we are removing them from the facility,” Gonzales said.
Since the second outbreak was discovered, all patients at PAM’s southeast facility have been moved to the company’s north facility, which is now dedicated to treating COVID-19 patients, he said.
All staff at the southeast facility have been removed and isolated at home, Gonzales said.
So far, county public health officials have handed down no order demanding testing of patients and staff at the southeast as they did with the north facility.
But Caitlin Weinheimer, county spokeswoman, said PAM officials had voluntarily conducted testing at the southeast facility in early April after the first outbreak was discovered.
“The facility recognized the need for testing through the investigation process,” she said.
Jon Wilcox reports on courts for the Victoria Advocate. He may be reached email@example.com or 361-580-6515.