There are 12 reported positive COVID-19 cases in Stephens County nursing homes or long term care facilities, according to data from the Governor’s Executive Report released Thursday evening.
The numbers, according to the data, reflect test results as of May 20. Oklahoma Department of Health statistics show one resident in Wilkins Health and Rehabilitation Community and six staff members positive, though that number is anticipated to increase. Meridian Nursing Home also reported one positive resident while Ashbrook Village reported one resident and three staff as positive, reports show.
Tony Wilkins, Owner/Administrator of Wilkins Health and Rehabilitation Community, said the facility Thursday hit day 73 of lockdown. With recent tests in the facility, Wilkins said one resident and eight employees have tested positive virus, which is two more than the state’s current numbers. Reporting of two more of the cases is anticipated to follow in coming day’s statistics recorded in the Governor’s Executive Report.
However, on May 9, an employee, who passed all screenings for symptoms related to COVID-19, worked for four hours before “developing stomach pain,” Wilkins said.
“The nurse sent the staff member home immediately and asked them to be tested for COVID-19,” Wilkins said. “We have been following this protocol since March.”
A positive test result returned May 14. Then, administration contacted Stephens County Health Department “whose nurses immediately formed a ‘strike force’” and tested all residents and employees — 250 people total — in the facility.
Those results, Wilkins said, came back May 19.
“Our mass testing revealed one resident being positive for the Coronavirus and eight employees who were positive,” Wilkins said. “The employees were sent home to quarantine if they were in the building at the time. Otherwise, they were notified by the facility or the health department.”
Wilkins said the resident resides in a “negative pressure wing which takes the air our of that area with negative pressure air scrubbing machines.” 
“The machines push the air out of the building,” Wilkins said. “This way, the germs, droplets, etc. carrying the virus cannot cannot come into other parts of the building.”
Any staff working with the positive patient works only with that specific patient, Wilkins said.
“They enter through the back door of that wing, do not have contact with any other employee or resident during their shift, exit through that door, take a shower in the dedicated shower trailer then go home,” Wilkins said. “All laundry from the unit is washed separately in hot water by itself — not mixed with anything else. We also have air scrubber machines with HEPA filters positioned about the facility to simply clean the air.”
Wilkins said staff also wear gowns, masks, eye shields, hair coverings and, when needed, shoe coverings.
One thing Wilkins pointed out: No one testing positive showed symptoms.
“Our positive employees and resident had no signs or symptoms,” Wilkins said. “Our resident reports being fine and being spoiled by the dedicated staff.”
The rapid spread of the virus in situations like this, Wilkins said, happens because it goes by undetected.
Julie Williamson, public information officer for District 8 of the Health Department, said Thursday, May 21 Stephens County cases increased from 25 to 36.
“This is an accurate number that represents what we have seen in nursing home settings in Stephens County,” Williamson said. “The public health nurses have been working closely with nursing home owners and administration to complete testing and provide guidance for isolation protocols.”
As of Thursday, Duncan had the majority of active cases with a total of 11 while Comanche reported two and Loco reported one.
Williamson said for those who are sick or think they have COVID-19 that the key is self-isolation.
“Those who are sick or think they have COVID-19 should self-isolate at home in a room away from others in the household,” Williamson said. “It is recommended to use a separate bathroom if possible. Difficulty breathing is a serious concern and medical attention should be sought immediately.”
If someone seeks medical attention for symptoms, Williamson said health care providers or medical facilities a patient may visit must have contact in advance before the patient arrives.”
County health departments offer COVID-19 curbside testing by appointment. For more information on testing sites, visit https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/testing-sites.
For more information about COVID-19, visit https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov or call 2-1-1.

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