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UPDATE: Third Western Home employee and resident test positive for COVID-19

UPDATE: Third Western Home employee and resident test positive for COVID-19

From the Coronavirus update Northeast Iowa series
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CEDAR FALLS -- A third Western Home Communities employee has tested positive for COVID-19.

In addition, a resident has now tested positive for coronavirus, officials announced Saturday.

"We strongly suspect the resident exposure happened during an essential medical procedure outside of Western Home Communities," said CEO Kris Hansen. "The resident had already been in isolation so we believe this presents a low risk of exposure to employees, because they've consistently worn a full complement of personal protective equipment while providing care." 

Western Home Communities is working with public health agencies and following its own coronavirus response plan to ensure all appropriate steps are taken to protect residents and employees. 

In addition, urged the public to keep staying home and social distancing to protect caregivers and older adults from the coronavirus.

Hansen said, “Our elders deserve love, support and protection from the entire community. This is the generation that built businesses, made important discoveries, educated countless students, fought for our freedoms and raised the baby boomers. They are not expendable.”

Western Home Communities has 1,100 residents in Cedar Falls, 55 in Grundy Center and 20 in Jesup, spread among 16 residential buildings. Their average age is 84. None of them has tested positive for coronavirus.

On Tuesday afternoon, Western Home announced that two employees of a skilled nursing facility within Western Home Communities have tested positive for coronavirus.  Those two both work on the second floor of Deery Suites, a skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility that is a part of Western Home.

The third case announced Friday is a Western Home dining services employee, according to a news release. 

The surge of positive tests and deaths in Black Hawk County concerns Hansen, who’s watched it quickly became the county in Iowa with the most confirmed cases. As of Friday afternoon, there were 717 confirmed cases in the county, and nine deaths.

The more often people venture out into public, the more spread will occur – and that increases the risk to all populations, including professional caregivers, Hansen said.

“It’s their greatest fear that they would bring the virus into a care community,” he said in a statement. “They’re on the frontlines in this battle, showing up with courage and doing everything they possibly can to protect the residents they love. We can all support them by doing our part to slow the spread.”

Hansen says the local surge means it’s inevitable that businesses have employees who test positive, since the virus is highly contagious even before someone has symptoms. 

Hansen says even as the governor plans to start reopening parts of the state, it’s no time for the Cedar Valley to think the worst is over. 

“I want people to realize this must be a community-wide effort. It’s hard for every single one of us, so it’s not a time to be selfish. Think about the greater good,” he says. “Every time you choose to stay home, you save lives.”

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