Health official: Asymptomatic carriers impede efforts to trace St. Elizabeth outbreak | Coronavirus


Asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 make it difficult for health officials to trace the source of a small outbreak of COVID-19 cases at a Janesville nursing home.

St. Elizabeth Nursing Home announced Monday that two of its residents tested positive for the disease over the weekend. One is hospitalized.

Kelsey Cordova of the Rock County Public Health Department confirmed Tuesday that no nursing home workers have tested positive.

The state Department of Health Services has restricted nursing homes from allowing visitors and nonessential health care personnel under state emergency orders.

Those showing symptoms of COVID-19 are also prohibited from entering nursing homes under state guidelines.

“Due to the presence of many asymptomatic persons in the community, it is very difficult to pinpoint how the infection was transmitted,” Cordova said in an email to The Gazette.

The Gazette could not reach representatives from St. Elizabeth for comment by press time.

Public health nurses have been working with the nursing home and are in constant communication with staff, Cordova said. The health department has offered guidance for staff on how to monitor residents and request personal protective equipment to keep workers and residents safe, she said.

Another Janesville nursing home, Oak Park Place, reported an outbreak of COVID-19 in early April.

Cases at Oak Park Place have remained steady in the last 10 days. The number of residents who tested positive remains at 11 with two residents having died from the disease, Cordova said.

Four staff members have tested positive, an increase of one since The Gazette reported case numbers April 18.

Rock County has reported six deaths from COVID-19, up from five Monday, according to health department data.

The number of positive cases also rose from 164 on Monday to 178 on Tuesday.

The county reports 47 people with probable COVID-19 cases, meaning they have not been tested but have exhibited symptoms to a doctor or received inconclusive test results, according to the health department’s website.

Twenty-one percent of Rock County residents with positive cases have been hospitalized.

State officials last week released new guidelines urging providers to start testing more people for the disease, including people with mild symptoms.

Statewide, 6,289 people have tested positive for COVID-19, and 300 people have died.

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