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Early action saved lives inside Carlsbad's senior care facilities

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Posted at 5:16 PM, May 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-08 21:15:49-04

CARLSBAD, Calif. (KGTV) - Among the hardest-hit communities during the pandemic has been senior care facilities, but in the city of Carlsbad, it's the lack of cases which has stood out.

According to the latest state numbers, more than 300 residents and staff have tested positive at some 18 sites in the county. None of those sites are in the city of Carlsbad.

"It's very, very fortunate," said David Harrison, Carlsbad's Assistant Director of Emergency Services.

RELATED: State data shows San Diego County nursing home has dozens of COVID-19 cases

He says among the city's 39 senior care facilities — spanning 2,700 residents — there have been zero confirmed COVID-19 cases. The realities of the virus can change quickly, but Harrison says the city has been proactive since day one.

"Our 'Day One' was January 24th," said Harrison.

That was the day the county issued its first health report on the coronavirus, as it spread across China.

RELATED: State lists 11 San Diego nursing homes with COVID-19 outbreaks

"It was this unusual report of novel virus, for which we have no vaccine and no natural immunities. That was enough to put us into this initial action of engaging our community sectors," said Harrison.

The city quickly reached out directly to the facilities. They also deployed a task force of volunteers dedicated to senior outreach, first formed after the 2007 wildfires.

There were extensive conversations with facility managers. From the get-go, those talks stressed an emphasis on hygiene and preventing infection. There were also early talks about equipment.

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"We talked about the availability of oxygen and ventilators ... possibly conversations about PPE," said Harrison.

The city and it's volunteers ultimately helped distribute hundreds of community-made masks to seniors. As CDC guidelines changed, Harrison says the facilities were quick to implement and enforce measures like visitor restrictions and social distancing.

"The success rests with staff and administrators, and the professionalism they went about their business and instituting these good practices," said Harrison.