Broomfield can expect a second outbreak at a long-term care facility to be confirmed following mass testing measures at Broomfield Skilled Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, Public Health Director Jason Vahling said at Thursday evening’s COVID-19 telephone town hall.
Tuesday, on the eve of six cases of COVID-19 and one death being reported at Sunrise at Flatirons assisted and senior living facility, the state announced Broomfield Skilled Nursing & Rehabilitation Center was selected as one of three long-term care facilities to this week conduct mass testing as a preemptive measure to prevent outbreaks. The facility received 300 tests and testing took place Wednesday and Thursday.
That testing showed at last two positive cases over 14 days, Broomfield spokeswoman Carolyn Romero said Thursday evening.
Broomfield had 125 cases of COVID-19 as of Thursday, Vahling said, and fivedeaths. That number is up from two deaths last week.
Local strategies are needed to protect public health, he said, and the Denver-metro region is seeing much more concerning COVID-19 issues than other areas in Colorado.
“It is critical we work together with neighboring communities to protect the health and safety of our community,” Vahling said.
Broomfield is taking a “diligent and thoughtful” approach when it comes to shifting from the state stay-at-home order to the safer-at-home order, he said. City leaders are having conversations with neighboring communities and metro area health departments on next steps on how best to coordinate a plan for the region.
The Broomfield Board of Health will meet virtually at 6 p.m. Friday to discuss the stay-at-home order, which is set to expire Sunday.
After reviewing information, the regional team, including Vahling, concluded that testing and containment capacity is critical to protect public health. He also said it is crucial people continue to practice social distancing, wear face coverings when in public and stay home as much as possible.
Health and city officials took questions from residents at the weekly town hall, including several about police and jail operations.
One resident wanted more about what is being done to keep jail deputies and inmates safe after a deputy tested positive for COVID-19. He also wanted to know how the jail went from 120 inmates to 54.
Broomfield Police Chief Gary Creager said the department worked with the courts to release inmates in various ways. Some were close to the end of their sentence, while others were placed on monitors, he said. Broomfield police did not release anyone they, or the courts, believed represented any kind of threat to the community, he said.
As for health procedures, Creager said there are stringent policies in place since officers always have the possibility of exposure. The department on a daily basis is checking on how officers feel and sending people home if they show symptoms until they are tested, he said.
The deputy in question reported she was tired, Creager said, and her supervisor pulled her off shift. The department contacted public health, which found she had very little to no contact with inmates based on scheduling protocols to minimize exposure. In addition there are twice-daily checks by health care staff of all inmates looking for signs and symptoms of the novel virus, he said.
One resident pleaded with Broomfield to be “very, very cautious” in its decision making.
“We’re definitely using data to drive our decisions,” Vahling said. “Our first and foremost goal is to suppress the spread of the virus and most importantly reduce hospitalization and ultimately reduce deaths.”
Indicators suppression efforts are working include a decrease in cases of hospitalization; the region having enough hospital capacity (specifically intensive care unit beds and ventilators); the ability of communities to provide adequate testing and identify individuals who are positive and to conduct contact tracing to isolate or quarantine infected individuals; and good surveillance measures to determine the true spread of the virus in the community, Vahling said.
Based on Broomfield’s numbers, health officials estimate there four to 10 times more cases in the community among people who haven’t been tested, he said.