Care facility lockdown lifted but doors not flying open

County restrictions eased as cases flatten but homes take direction from state
Ozaukee Press staff

The coronavirus cases in Ozaukee County have evened out, a change that last week prompted the Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department to lift its lockdown of long-term care facilities.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean seniors and their families are being reunited in nursing homes. 

Amanda Kohal, administrator of the Lasata Care Campus in Cedarburg, said that despite the health department’s action, facilities like hers are governed by the Division of Quality Assurance and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which have not changed their directives.

“The state has not given us any guidance about visitation,” Kohal said. “We want nothing more than to reunite our folks and their families. It’s been over three months since we’ve allowed visits. It’s heart-wrenching.”

Families are still able to do window visits with residents, Kohal noted.

Lasata needs to take a conservative path when dealing with the coronavirus or risk the health and safety of its staff and residents, Kohal said, noting the worst case would be to reopen and then be forced to close again.

Lasata is nearing the end of testing everyone on its campus for the coronavirus. Kohal said that one of Lasata’s employees tested positive for Covid-19 on Saturday, one of four workers at the campus to test positive since the pandemic began. No residents have tested positive, she said.

According to the Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department website, there are also outbreaks at two other senior living facilities in the county — Village Pointe Commons in Grafton and Heritage Health Services in Port Washington.

An outbreak at a care facility is defined by the health department as one person testing positive.

According to the county website, Ozaukee County had 216 confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of Tuesday, an increase of nine in the last week.

The fact that the county experienced no change in the severity, burden or trajectory of the virus — defined as the percentage of change during the past two weeks — prompted Health Officer Kirsten Johnson to lift the lockdown on care facilities.

However, she also urged agencies to continue to follow measures such as requiring personal protective equipment when transporting residents and requiring people who work at long-term care facilities and health care agencies to disclose when they are working in more than one facility.

In her new order, Johnson also increased the capacity guidelines for businesses and events, but reiterated that people should practice social distancing, wear cloth face masks when social distancing is difficult, practice hand washing and clean and disinfect often.

The new guidelines call for festivals and fairs, indoor recreation, gyms and exercise facilities, outdoor recreational facilities such as pools and amusement parks and special events such as weddings and funerals to operate at 50% capacity while retailers and food service operations may operate at 75% capacity.

The blueprint for reopening issued by the health department is “a living document,” officials stress, noting it will continue to be updated to reflect the most recent circumstances.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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