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BREAKING: Falls Church Senior Living Facility Resident Tests Positive for Coronavirus

(Updated at 11 a.m.) A man living in a senior living facility in the City of Falls Church has tested positive for the coronavirus, Fairfax County officials say.

The Fairfax County Health Department announced today (Thursday) that the man, who lives at The Kensington (700 W. Broad Street), was isolated after he started having respiratory illness symptoms on Saturday, March 14.

“Specimens were collected on March 16 and sent to the Virginia state laboratory,” according to the county. “Health officials have been providing infection control guidance to the facility since testing was initiated, and visitor restrictions had already been in place.”

This is the first positive coronavirus case reported in the City of Falls Church.

More from the health department:

“When COVID-19 occurs in a setting where there are many older people with underlying health conditions, we are concerned” said Health Director Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu. “We’ll be working very closely with the facility over the coming days to protect other residents and staff and prevent further spread.”

Based on this positive result, FCHD has deployed an infection control team to the facility to initiate an investigation, including identifying the potential source of exposure. Working in partnership with the facility management, the team will:

  • Evaluate all staff and provide them with personal protective equipment
  • Interview residents and staff members to assess illness and exposures
  • Collect specimens on any symptomatic residents or staff
  • Provide guidance on infection control activities, including isolation and quarantine and environmental cleaning of the facility

“Our team has been working diligently since November 1 to ensure our infection control processes are strong and in place,” said Amy Feather, Executive Director, The Kensington Falls Church. “Residents have been monitored daily for fever and respiratory symptoms since news of the spread of COVID-19 became public. In addition, team members have been monitored for symptoms of flu and COVID-19 at the start of their shifts. Anyone with symptoms has been sent home, asked to contact their physician and to monitor their symptoms.

“Staff has been doing sanitizing within the community, particularly within high traffic areas. Deliveries have been restricted to outside entrances and retrieved by staff to those in the community. As per guidance from the CDC for health care communities, the community has limited visitors and canceled all events and outings. The Fairfax County Department of Health has been an invaluable partner in helping us mobilize the resources we need to test and monitor the health of our residents and staff. We are extremely grateful to them for their help.”

Seven other people who were sick at the assisted living and memory care facility received negative test results for the virus, the city said in a press release.

According to a statement from The Kensington:

A staff member was proactively taking their own temperature and called out on Friday. They have not returned to the building and are awaiting test results.

Another staff member was told to leave work after developing a fever during their shift. They have been tested and are awaiting results…

Residents have been monitored each shift for fever and respiratory symptoms over the past week. In addition, team members have been monitored for symptoms of flu and COVID-19 at the start of their shifts.

Anyone with symptoms has been sent home, asked to contact their physician and to monitor their symptoms. Staff has been sanitizing within the community, particularly within high traffic areas. Deliveries have been restricted to outside entrances and retrieved by staff to those in the community.

As per guidance from the CDC for health care communities, the community had limited visitors and had canceled all events and outings.  “We had asked families not to visit or take residents out into the community,” said Feather.  “We had cancelled all but critical doctor’s appointments for residents. Our teams are creative and have set up virtual ways for residents and family members to connect in lieu of in-person visits.  They are arranging these virtual visits through Facetime or video chats.”

Feather explained that the community has had plans in place well ahead of this diagnosis.  “Because we deal with an at-risk group of people living in our community, we had detailed plans in place well before this development. The plan follows the CDC guidelines for all healthcare facilities,” said Feather.

The City of Falls Church, which is a part of the Fairfax Health District, declared a local emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic on Monday, March 16.

“The virus has now hit home for our community as it has for so many communities around our country and around the world,” Mayor David Tarter said in the press release. “It underscores just how serious this pandemic is, and the importance of following the recommendations and mandates of our health care professionals.”

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