BRENHAM, Texas — Joan Thompson sits in isolation in her room at the Brenham Nursing and Rehabilitation Center as the facility grapples with one of the worst concentrated outbreaks of coronavirus in the entire state.
Washington County public health officials confirm 102 residents and staff have tested positive for COVID-19, a number that represents 68% of the 150 cases in the entire county. Nineteen people at the facility have died, 90% of the county’s 21 coronavirus deaths.
“You just don’t know what’s going to happen,” said her son Juston Thompson. "She texted me and says, ‘Oh, did you know so-and-so passed away?' What do you say? I mean, I don’t know what to say in a situation like that.”
At the request of State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), the state has sent in two rapid response teams of specialized nurses and infectious disease experts.
They’ve tested everyone who lives and works at the nursing home and quarantined employees who have tested positive. Local health officials believe in the small town of Brenham they have minimized the risk for community spread.
But for the facility itself, there is still concern.
“For the nursing home the next couple of weeks are going to be difficult,” said Dr. William Robert Loesch in a YouTube video posted by the Washington County Joint Information Center. “I think what’s going to happen is, unfortunately, I think we’re going to see a few more deaths.”
In a written statement, a spokesperson for the Brenham Nursing and Rehabilitation Center said the facility is offering support services to patients, their families and employees as it continues to navigate the challenges the pandemic has brought.
“Our hearts go out to everyone who has been impacted and the top priority continues to be the health and safety of everyone in our facility. We have implemented increasingly rigid protocols and procedures as recommended by federal and local health authorities to reduce the risk to patients and staff,” the statement said.
But the Thompson family said since the beginning of the outbreak, they’ve been largely left in the dark.
“I think the big concern probably for myself and for my dad is the lack of information that’s coming out of the facility even with the state there,” Juston Thompson said.
He said his mother has not shown any symptoms since testing positive about 10 days ago.
The biggest concern for Joan Thompson is the status of her former roommate, who was split up and quarantined.
Joan looks through local obituaries, according to her son, hoping not to come across her name.
MORE FROM KHOU 11 INVESTIGATES
The symptoms of coronavirus can be similar to the flu or a bad cold. Symptoms include a fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Some patients also have nausea, headaches and stomach issues.
Most healthy people will have mild symptoms. A study of more than 72,000 patients by the Centers for Disease Control in China showed 80 percent of the cases there were mild.
But infections can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death, according to the World Health Organization. Older people with underlying health conditions are most at risk for becoming seriously ill. However, U.S. experts are seeing a significant number of younger people being hospitalized, including some in ICU.
The CDC believes symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after being exposed.
Human coronaviruses are usually spread through...
- The air by coughing or sneezing
- Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
- Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.
Help stop the spread of coronavirus
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Eat and sleep separately from your family members
- Use different utensils and dishes
- Cover your cough or sneeze with your arm, not your hand.
- If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash.
- Follow social distancing
Lower your risk
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- If you are 60 or over and have an underlying health condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or respiratory illnesses like asthma or COPD, the World Health Organization advises you to try to avoid crowds or places where you might interact with people who are sick.
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