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County deploys ‘SOS teams’ to 400 nursing homes


Riverside County is coming to the aid of skilled nursing facilities, trying to assure both patients and staff they're paying attention.

Nursing home patients are some of the most vulnerable to becoming infected with the coronavirus. That's why the county is now deploying specialized "SOS" teams, or "Skilled nursing facilities Outreach and Support" teams, who will bring supplies and information to the county's 400 nursing homes.

This comes after residents of a Riverside nursing home were evacuated last week because their staff didn't show up to work two days in a row, after patients there started testing positive.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the county said there are 84 confirmed cases within skilled nursing centers, as well as 67 staff who tested positive.

They haven't tested every nursing home patient in the county, only those in facilities where a positive case has been confirmed.

The county couldn't say how many nursing homes have positive cases.

The SOS teams will demonstrate proper safety techniques, provide personal protective equipment like masks, gloves and eye goggles, and educate people with facts about coronavirus.

The county is also calling on nurses at the homes to keep coming to work and provide care at these "critical" pieces of the health system's infrastructure.

"We want to help you and we want to help you take care of our mutual goal, which is to take care of those residents that live in those facilities that are the most vulnerable," said Bruce Barton, the county's director of emergency management. "Our most vulnerable patients need these sites to remain open and they need all of you to remain in place as we go through this emergency."

As for testing, the county said they have the capacity fore more than 2,000 tests per day.

At least 29,000 residents have been tested to date – more than 1 percent of the entire county's population.

But Dr. Cameron Kaiser, the county's public health officer, pointed out that still isn't sufficient – because someone who tests negative today could be positive tomorrow.

To get a truly accurate read on the virus, Kaiser said they need to double testing, or even quadruple the amount being done right now.

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Jake Ingrassia

Joining News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 as a reporter, Jake is excited to be launching his broadcasting career here in the desert. Learn more about Jake here.


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