BULLHEAD CITY — Three more “congregate sites” in Mohave County have been tallied as having positive COVID-19 cases, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.
The ADHS, on its COVID-19 data dashboard, said the county has a total of nine congregate sites reporting at least one positive case. Only two of those sites have been identified publicly — Desert Highlands Care Center in Kingman and Joshua Springs Senior Living in Bullhead City. Denise Burley, director of the Mohave County Department of Public Health, said Thursday that five facilities in the county — at least one each in Bullhead City, Kingman and Lake Havasu City — had been sources of outbreaks.
The county’s additional congregate sites with positive cases are not identified by name or location, but they are listed by service. They include three assisted living facilities, two long-term care facilities, two prisons/jails/detention centers, one daycare facility and one shelter. The number grew by three since May 24.
After the outbreak at Joshua Springs was revealed last week, Burley said that as of May 25, 102 of the county’s then-total of 324 cases had been linked to long-term care facilities in the county. At least 18 of those cases have been linked to Desert Highlands and 18 more to Joshua Springs, where 13 residents in the facility’s memory care unit and five staff members tested positive.
Joshua Springs is “in the process of testing all memory care residents and our associates as well as continuing our stringent screening of all vendors, administrators and volunteers,” according to Vicki Doyle, public relations manager for Watermark Retirement Communities, which owns Joshua Springs.
Another Bullhead City assisted living center, Silver Creek Leisure Living, is hoping to test its residents and staff as well.
“Our intention is to test everyone,” said Renee Fleminks, director of the center on Highway 95 in Bullhead City.
Family members contacted the Daily News after receiving notification from Silver Creek staff about possible positive cases at the facility. Fleminks neither would confirm nor deny that there had been any positive tests connected to Silver Creek.
One family told the Daily News that visitations, which already had been restricted during the pandemic, were put on complete hold late last week after someone at the facility had developed COVID-19 symptoms.
Fleminks did say that Silver Creek representatives were planning to meet with county health officials Monday in an attempt to secure facility-wide testing.
It is a request being repeated at long-term care facilities across the state. The ADHS data dashboard indicates that 353 congregate sites, including 121 assisted living centers and 69 long-term care facilities, have reported positive COVID-19 cases. It is thought widely that the introduction of the virus in those facilities came through infected employees who likely were asymptomatic. That can be — and has been — devastating in Mohave County, throughout Arizona and nationally. Burley said that 21 of the county’s first 35 COVID-19 deaths were linked to long-term care or assisted living facilities. Estimates place 30,000 of the United States’ more than 100,000 deaths as being either patients or workers at nursing homes.
“Protecting the health and safety of our most vulnerable residents is a top priority of the Arizona Department of Health Services, and we know that residents of long-term care facilities are at a higher risk for serious complications and death from COVID-19,” said ADHS Director Dr. Cara Christ. “It is critical that we can test the residents of these facilities and the staff that care for them.”
Toward that end, Sonora Quest Laboratories is offering up to 25,000 coronavirus tests in Arizona at 147 long-term care facilities.
“With the help of Sonora Quest, Arizona has expanded the capacity to test more people and I appreciate that partnership.”
“The residents in LTC facilities are the most vulnerable with a far higher death rate per capita when exposed to COVID-19, but have a lower rate of testing than any other sector in our state,” said Dave Dexter, CEO and president of Sonora Quest.
The initial launch of the expanded testing will focus on skilled nursing facilities that are certified through the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services or licensed through Arizona. Sonora Quest will perform diagnostic swab and antibody serology tests at its lab in Tempe, Arizona. Facilities and the state health department will be notified of the results, likely within seven days of collection.