First incident of COVID-19 transmission in a Utah care facility reported

One dead; Multiple patients and staff infected
Posted at 1:50 PM, Apr 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-05 00:03:54-04

SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake City nursing facility has experienced a novel coronavirus outbreak, according to the Utah Department of Health and the Salt Lake County Health Department.

Pine Creek Rehab and Nursing confirmed the outbreak later Saturday.

Six of seven symptomatic patients there reportedly tested positive for COVID-19. The first patient who was diagnosed was hospitalized on Friday, March 27. Three others remain hospitalized, and one patient passed away on April 2.

Two staff members have also tested positive for COVID-19.

An investigation of the facility was launched after the first patient was hospitalized.

Members of the Healthcare-Associated Infections Team from the Utah Department of Health were brought in to assist with the investigation, perform a facility assessment, and offer guidance for additional prevention.

“An important part of the public health response is ensuring the health and safety of vulnerable populations, such as those living in long-term care facilities,” said Dr. Allyn Nakashima, Healthcare-Associated Infections/Antibiotic Resistance (HAI/AR) Program Manager for the Utah Department of Health. “We’ve worked hard with our partners at local health departments to ensure these types of facilities are aware of the steps they can take to limit the spread of COVID-19 among residents.”

Because of the outbreak, the 34-bed facility will now become a COVID-19-only facility, housing patients who no longer require hospital-level care.

The 34-bed facility will now only care for people with COVID-19 who need long-term care but not hospitalization, instead of mixing COVID long-term care patients in with long-term care patients who don’t have the virus. The Salt County Health Department says it’s part of isolating people sick with COVID-19 from others. Other facilities will move that direction if necessary, but at this time the department said it does not have that need locally.

FOX13 News asked the health department why the name of the facility was not being released initially. Officials responded:

"Under the current public health order, people shouldn’t be in contact with people outside their households and staff members and their households are already aware and in quarantine as necessary.

When releasing information, we balance privacy rights with protecting public health. If there is a threat to public health that we need to let the public know about, we do so regardless of privacy. But since we have not identified a health threat to the wider public in this situation, there’s no need to compromise privacy in the interest of public health."