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Utah senior living centers using 'NBA Bubble' approach to COVID-19 safety

Posted at 2:40 PM, Dec 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-03 16:40:46-05

SANDY, Utah — Two Utah senior living communities are starting to reopen and allow more visitors and activities to happen, thanks to their coronavirus testing strategies.

Sagewood at Daybreak and Cedarwood at Sandy are doing pool testing, which they say has allowed them to return to a relatively normal lifestyle and keep residents active.

They call it their own version of the "NBA bubble."

“They just spit into a little vial, everyone’s broken up into pools, and then we overnight and get results the next day," said Jess Buntjer, Executive Director at Cedarwood.

Associates at Cedarwood get tested twice a week and residents get tested once or twice a week, depending on their risk level.

"So even if they’re not showing symptoms, if they participate in pool testing we catch it early which has been really huge while dealing with COVID," Buntjer said.

Everyone living in the community is placed in a different testing pool for the noninvasive saliva test.

"If somebody comes back positive in that pool, rather than having to shut everything down, we have the ability to just PCR test that pool and then, once we get the results of who would come back positive, then everyone else can kind of go about their daily routines," Bunjer said.

Buntjer says because of this type of testing, residents are allowed to maintain a social life.

“Within our little bubble, right that’s why we always say 'the bubble.' The residents can go to activities and come to the common area and sit with their friends. Obviously, we still maintain masks and social distancing, washing their hands, but it’s allowed us to kind of free things up within the community, which has been huge," Buntjer said.

Every visitor and health care worker who comes into the community must answer a series of questions and get a temperature check before meeting with residents. Buntjer says this system allows residents to feel confident about their health in their every day lives.