LDH reports COVID-19 ‘clusters’ at 6 nursing homes in Louisiana

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By Nick Gremillion and Lester Duhé | KPLC7 News, March 23, 2020

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) – Officials with the Louisiana Department of Health announced Wednesday, March 25 they have identified COVID-19 clusters in six nursing homes in the state.

Health officials define a “cluster” as two or more cases of COVID-19, commonly known as the coronavirus, that appear to be connected.

Officials say due to the growing number of cases involving nursing home residents, LDH will no longer be reporting where positive cases have been identified. LDH officials say they will continue to work with nursing homes to minimize the spread of the coronavirus and protect residents and staff.

LDH reported Monday, March 23 the second cluster of COVID-19 cases was identified at the Chateau D’Ville retirement community in Donaldsonville.

Signs out in front of the nursing home say: “No visitors at this time.”

“There is a cluster at the Chateau D’Ville nursing home in Donaldsonville. I don’t have a whole lot of information on it because of the HIPAA law,” said Donaldsonville Mayor Leroy Sullivan.

LDH officials say they discovered five cases at Chateau D’Ville March 23.

“We put our family members in nursing homes in order for them to be cared for, because we may not be able to do it 24/7. And then when something like this happens, you know, it’s a setback for the community,” said Sullivan.

WAFB’s Lester Duhé called the Chateau D’Ville Rehab and Retirement Center Monday, March 23 and asked how those five residents who tested positive for COVID-19 are doing. The person over the phone told him, they “cannot speak to the media at this time.”

This is the second “cluster” of cases discovered by the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH).

The other cluster is at the Lambeth House in New Orleans, where there have been 42 COVID-19 patients and nine deaths so far.

But what is a cluster exactly?

“For example, if we found two patients in a nursing home that were staying in rooms next to each other, we would start to worry. Or for example, if we found several people in a prison population that were closely associated in the same dorm. But out in the community, we would consider a cluster much more broadly. For example, like what if we had five or six kids in an elementary school classroom, you know, they could’ve gotten it lots of other places, so the word cluster for COVID-19, isn’t strictly defined as a number, it’s also situational,” said Dr. Frank Welch with LDH.

Basically, when LDH sees multiple cases of coronavirus in a specific community and those cases seem to have a similar connection, it’s considered a cluster.

With those individuals who are 65 years or older being more at risk for complications from the virus, LDH really puts its focus and attention on cases like this.

“To help protect not only those people who are involved, make sure it doesn’t spread further in that environment, make sure we get those people the care that they need, but that is to get one of those special circumstances, where we really want to pay attention, because those are the people most at risk,” said Dr. Welch.

Officials with LDH say they are working with Chateau D’Ville to help minimize the spread of the coronavirus infection. LDH has also requested additional assistance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), asking that they send over an epidemiology team, which is the same thing they’ve done for the Lambeth House as well.