Despite rumors and allegations circulating around our communities that there’s an outbreak of coronavirus in local senior citizen and care centers in Douglas and Glenrock, and an imminent closure of the Douglas Senior Center, Converse County Public Health Nurse Manager Darcey Cowardin insists those claims are false.
That’s right – it’s not true. The Douglas Senior Center is not closing down, and there are no clusters of COVID-19 there or in any of Douglas’ other care facilities, including Mountain Lodge and Douglas Care Center, Cowardin said. Nor are there any positive cases traced to the Glenrock Senior Center.
Douglas Senior Center closed for in-house dining and in-house activities Oct. 8, but it is only a temporary measure taken out of precaution.
Anonymous phone calls made on Oct. 15 to the Budget and other newspapers were filled with allegations directed toward the Douglas Senior Center – such as the facility’s being “shut down by the health department.”
“We did not shut them down. Their closure is voluntary. We had a staff member there who tested positive, and we ended up quarantining several people. We have not tied any of our positives to there. There have been 14 positives there since the beginning, spread out over time, but through contact tracing, we have determined there is no outbreak there.
“We’ve recently had a large number of seniors testing positive (in our communities), but we have not necessarily been able to tie it back to the (Douglas) senior center,” Cowardin stated.
Douglas and Glenrock Senior Centers Director Nancy Fink explained the closure was out of an abundance of caution.
“We have closed the dining room and gone to curbside meal service for a few weeks. We did have an office staff member who was positive and others who were in quarantine. The positive staff member is back to work. We had two positives in the dining room and one staff member since all of this began. Glenrock has not had one person in our center (become ill),” Fink said.
Neither center has closed its doors since the start of the pandemic, she said.
“We’ve gone to curbside delivery, but we have not closed. Curbside is not what we want to do; it’s temporary. I’ve talked to the Department of Health, who I answer to, on a regular basis; they’ve told me we are doing everything we need to do. We haven’t had to shut our doors, we have not had to lay anyone off, or make any cuts in pay. Everyone still has their jobs,” Fink said.
Earlier this year, Cowardin said Public Health had received several complaints from people concerned with masks not being worn in the Douglas center. Fink confirmed then that the staff were, in fact, wearing masks while at work.
“I have had several complaints since that time. The reports we have received are concerning if the (staff) are not wearing masks while being with the most vulnerable population in our county,” Cowardin said.
Fink also countered allegations that sanitizing wasn’t being done.
“The day the Douglas employee went into quarantine, we ordered a backpack sprayer to saturate large areas. We are disinfecting and following procedures. We’re going to order another one for Glenrock.
“Mask wearing is required in the building. Staff don’t have to wear masks inside their own offices, but if they’re out moving around, they wear their masks. We have sanitizing stations, and we provide masks to anyone who needs or asks for them. We’re doing what we need to do.”
She expressed some frustration with the rumor mill.
“I don’t know why people do this. . . We do so much in the background . . . I think people don’t even realize what we do. We delivered 15,000 meals in Douglas and Glenrock between October 2019 to September – 15,000 meals – in a year.”
Cowardin said there have been two positive coronavirus cases each at Douglas Care Center and Mountain Lodge since March.
“We do not have an outbreak at either of those facilities. We’ve had two staff positives at each facility, and no residents have tested positive. When we have a positive case at a nursing home, the Wyoming Department of Health takes over. One hundred percent of the staff and residents are tested anytime there is a positive case. Normally, 10 to 20% are tested every two weeks for surveillance testing. We currently have no active cases involving either facility,” Cowardin said.
Additionally, Mountain Lodge reported on social media on Oct. 20 they’d received notice the previous weekend that one of their residents had tested positive for coronavirus, was symptomatic and being treated in-house.
“We will be testing 100% of staff and residents weekly until we have 14 days of negative results, then we can resume to our tier. We are all working very hard to keep our wonderful residents safe and COVID free. We ask that you please do your part and DO NOT come to the Lodge if you are feeling ill in any way!” officials posted on Facebook announcing the positive case.