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Williamson County updates guidelines for facilities housing the vulnerable

Only visitors providing critical assistance should be permitted into the facilities.

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas — The Williamson County Health Authority has updated its control orders to coincide with new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and the State of Texas.

On March 16, the initial control orders were issued for nursing homes, assisted living and other long-term care facilities to protect residents and staff against COVID-19. This included visitor restrictions, temperature and symptom checks for staff and residents, and strict use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

The updated control orders, expected to be sent out Thursday, require all individuals that enter the facility to wear a surgical face mask or cloth face covering, only visitors providing critical assistance should be permitted into the facility, and the facility may not admit any individual to the facility with a temperature of 99.6 degrees or above. The facilities have also increased the number of times each resident should be screened for COVID-19 symptoms to at least once each shift.

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"Nursing home staff provide care for our most vulnerable citizens," Williamson County Health Authority Dr. Lori Palazzo said. "Prevention of COVID-19 outbreaks at long-term care facilities require an intense focus on infection prevention practices. In order to protect those most vulnerable to this disease, it is vital that the updated control orders be followed.”

Hearthstone Nursing & Rehabilitation Center of Round Rock also opened the first Secure Isolation Unit in Williamson County. This will provide healthcare beds needed to serve senior patients with COVID-19 as they discharge from area hospitals.

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As of April 23, there have been no outbreaks at any Williamson County facilities. A spokesperson for the County stated that there have been less than three cases total in all nursing homes in Williamson County. 

While the March 16 orders included 43 facilities, the updated control orders and guidelines will include 65 assisted living, nursing home, skilled nursing and long-term care facilities.

For more information on the COVID-19, including daily case counts, go to www.wcchd.org/covid-19 or www.wilco.org/coronavirus.

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