Colorado tests Loveland nursing home for more-contagious COVID-19 variant as cases spike

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A healthcare worker finishes testing a passenger at a Larimer County COVID-19 testing site at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo. on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020.

Editor’s note: Analyzing COVID-19 outbreaks in Larimer County each week takes time and resources. If you don’t already, please support the Coloradoan’s ability to provide this resource and continued coverage of the issues facing our community by purchasing a subscription today.

Staff and residents at North Shore Health and Rehabilitation Center were tested Friday morning for the highly contagious U.K. coronavirus variant after an unusually large spike in COVID-19 cases among staff at the Loveland nursing home.

The number of North Shore cases jumped from 38 to 110 from Dec. 30 to Jan. 6, according to data released Wednesday by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Of the 110 cases, 75 were staff members, said Yvonne Myers, director of health systems for Columbine Health, which owns North Shore. Another 27 staff members tested positive for the virus Thursday.

“Something wasn’t right,” Myers said. “The numbers were too great and going up too fast. We don’t get 27 (positive cases) in a day. With more than 100 staff testing positive, the state thought we should really check for the variant.”

Four of the positive tests — two staff and two residents — will be tested for the additional variant, Myers said, with the assumption of they are positive for the U.K variant, the rest will be as well.

Results won’t be available from the state lab for a couple days, she said. Meanwhile, the facility expects to wrap up its vaccination clinic for staff and residents next week, and then move on to the second round of shots, Myers said.

In the meantime, some patients were were treated with bamlanivimab, the monoclonal antibody therapy approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration. It has been shown in clinical trials to reduce COVID-19 hospitalizations.

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Due to the high number of cases among North Shore staff, COVID-negative patients were moved to nearby Columbine West or Centre Avenue facilities for care.

The U.K. variant, first identified in the United Kingdom, showed up in the U.S. in late December in Elbert County. While not more deadly than the disease that has spread across the nation, the variant is considered to be more contagious than previously identified strains.

The North Shore outbreak was one of the only active COVID-19 outbreaks in Larimer County that grew significantly this week, according to state data. The total number of active COVID-19 outbreaks in Larimer County dropped significantly in the first week of 2021, as the state marked more than 50 outbreaks as resolved and logged few new ones.

The state of Colorado reported 13 new outbreaks in the county this week, bringing the total count of active outbreaks to 86 as of Wednesday. That’s down from about 130 active outbreaks last week.

Deaths tied to active COVID-19 outbreaks rose by 17 since last week, with deaths newly reported at Aspyre at Rock Creek assisted living (five residents), Sierra Vista Health Care Center (four residents), Lemay Avenue Health & Rehabilitation (four residents), North Shore (three among residents) and Sugar Valley Estates (one resident). Not all of those deaths happened in the last week. There is often a lag in the state data, and the state numbers for the Sierra Vista outbreak have yet to catch up with the totals associated with that outbreak.

Annaliese Impink, a spokesperson for Sierra Vista owner SavaSeniorCare, told the Coloradoan on Tuesday that 17 residents have died of COVID-19 over the course of the outbreak. The state is reporting 13 deaths.

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Illnesses at a facility are considered an outbreak when two or more cases of COVID-19 are confirmed within a 14-day period. An outbreak is considered “resolved” when 28 days have passed with no new cases.

As the number of active outbreaks fell, so did the number of COVID-19 cases tied to active outbreaks. The total dropped about 7%, from more than 1,750 last week to about 1,630 this week, according to state data. That doesn’t include about 1,560 cases in outbreak data associated with Colorado State University.

The newly reported outbreaks include a sandwich shop, big box warehouse, printing company, sign company, insurance office, car dealership, auto service center, heating company and respite care provider.

Six of the 13 newly reported outbreaks included more than five cases, although representatives of several facilities said they’ve had no recent cases:

  • Costco in Timnath, with 18 cases reported among staff. The company didn’t respond to a Coloradoan request for comment.
  • Home Depot, 1100 Nickel Drive in Loveland, with 15 cases among staff. The outbreak was newly reported this week but has an onset date of Oct. 31 in the state data. Home Depot representatives said there are currently no active cases among staff.
  • Home Depot, 4502 John F. Kennedy Pkwy., in Fort Collins, with seven cases among staff. The outbreak was newly reported this week but has an onset date of Nov. 25 in the state data. Home Depot representatives said there are currently no active cases among staff.
  • Good Samaritan Society – Loveland Village campus, with 38 cases among staff and residents.  Nineteen of those cases were at the campus’ residential health care center, including 11 staff and eight residents, said Julie Marko, administrator of the Loveland Health Care Center. She said one of those residents died. All health care center staff have recovered, and the campus is holding a vaccine clinic for all staff and residents on Friday and Saturday.  
  • Good Samaritan Society- Fort Collins Village, with 15 cases among staff and one case among residents. All 16 individuals have recovered, administrator Fred Pitzl said.
  • Cheba Hut, 925 S Taft Hill Road in Fort Collins, with seven cases among staff. 

The outbreak at Costco was identified in November but just showed up in the state and county’s list of reported outbreaks. 

The state said the county health department confirmed the outbreak in November, but during surges, state and local public health agencies may focus outbreak investigation resources on six populations identified as being at greatest risk of adverse outcomes or significant disruptions due to COVID-19.

At-risk populations include healthcare, correctional settings, highly mobile populations, schools, critical infrastructure, and tribes and Native communities.

“Because of the surge in outbreaks in high risk settings, Larimer County public health officials did not investigate and report the outbreak until recently,” the state said in an email to the Coloradoan.

The cases at Cheba Hut represent almost half of the 20 employees at its Taft Hill Road sandwich shop. The employees tested positive for COVID-19 just before Christmas, owner David Timmons confirmed.

The first employee tested positive Dec. 22 or 23. After that, about 10 workers who came in contact with the initial worker were tested. Six of them tested positive for a total of seven.

Cheba Hut, with two locations in Fort Collins, shut down over Christmas and remained closed on Dec. 26 for a professional cleaning, Timmons said.

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No other employees have tested positive since Dec. 28, and no one who tested positive has been in the store since before Christmas, Timmons said.

“It is what it is and we’re trying to move past it,” Timmons said.

Among outbreaks, nine more deaths have been reported since Jan. 1 with all but one over the age of 70. The other, a 60-year-old man from Loveland, also died of COVID-19, according to the county health department. 

View the full report of active and resolved outbreaks in Larimer County at larimer.org/health/communicable-disease/coronavirus-covid-19/larimer-county-positive-covid-19-numbers.

Active COVID-19 outbreaks in Larimer County

Note: Asterisks indicate outbreaks newly reported since Dec. 31. Bold entries indicate outbreaks with 10 or more confirmed and probable cases, according to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Anheuser Busch Brewery- Fort Collins

Aspen House 1 Memory Care/Assisted Living, Loveland

Aspyre at Rock Creek assisted living, Fort Collins

Athleta (retail store), Fort Collins

Bel Ami Salon, Fort Collins

Berthoud Living Center senior living provider

Blevins Middle School, Fort Collins

Blue Spruce Temporary Shelter, Fort Collins

Boys & Girls Club – Pulliam, Loveland

Broadcom Inc., Fort Collins

Brookdale Fort Collins Assisted Living 

Cameron Peak Fire

Canyon Bakehouse (food manufacturing and packaging facility), Johnstown

Catholic Charities Women’s Temporary Shelter, Fort Collins

Centre Avenue Health and Rehab, Fort Collins

*Cheba Hut, Fort Collins (925 S. Taft Hill Road)

*Citizen Printing, Fort Collins 

Colorado State University

Columbine West Health & Rehab Facility: November 2020

*Costco, Timnath

Cottonwood Plains Elementary School, Fort Collins

Courtyard of Loveland Assisted Living

DaVinci Sign Systems LLC, Windsor

*DH Wholesale Signs, Fort Collins

Dyecrest Dairy LLC, Fort Collins

Eagle’s Nest Assisted Living, Fort Collins

*Ed Carroll Motor Co.

First National Bank, Fort Collins

Fort Collins Colorado Temple – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Fort Collins Health Care Center senior living center

Fort Collins Police Services

Fossil Ridge High School, Fort Collins

Four Seasons Veterinary Specialists, Loveland

*Fred Loya Insurance, Fort Collins

*Good Samaritan Society- Fort Collins Village (retirement community)

*Good Samaritan Society- Loveland Village (retirement community)

Good Times Burgers, Loveland (1355 N. Lincoln Ave.)

Grease Monkey, Loveland (1100 Eagle Drive)

Hach Co., Loveland

Happy Horse Tack Shop, Fort Collins

Harvest Farm, Wellington

Hobby Lobby – Johnstown

Houska Automotive Services Inc., Fort Collins

I-Kota Construction- Mason Place job site, Fort Collins

JMP Heat Inc., Loveland

Larimer County Jail

Lemay Avenue Health & Rehabilitation: November 2020, Fort Collins

Liberty Common High School, Fort Collins

Little People’s Landing Early Learning Center – East Boardwalk Drive, Fort Collins

Loveland Classical Lyceum Campus

Loveland Ford

McDonald’s, Fort Collins (3512 S. Timberline Road)

Mountain View High School, Loveland

*Nelson’s Auto Tech Center

New Mercer Commons assisted living, Fort Collins

North Shore Health & Rehab Facility: November 2020, Fort Collins

Northwest Instruments and Controls Inc., Timnath

Orthopaedic & Spine Center of the Rockies – Fort Collins

Orthopaedic & Spine Center of the Rockies – Loveland

Park Regency Loveland Assisted Living

*Respite Care, Inc.

Resurrection Christian School, Loveland

Rocky Mountain High School, Fort Collins

*Rocky Mountain Plumbing and Hydroheat

Rustic Donut, Fort Collins

Sam’s Club, Fort Collins

Scheels, Johnstown

Seven Lakes Memory Care: November 2020, Loveland

Shepardson Elementary, Fort Collins

Sierra Vista Healthcare Center, Loveland

South Mesa Veterinary Hospital, Fort Collins

Sprouts Farmers Market, Fort Collins (2601 S. Lemay Ave.)

Sugar Valley Estates independent living facility, Loveland

The Green House Homes at Mirasol skilled nursing facility, Loveland

*The Home Depot, Fort Collins (4502 John F Kennedy Parkway)

The Home Depot, Fort Collins (1251 E. Magnolia St.)

*The Home Depot, Loveland (1100 Nickel Drive)

Trader Joe’s, Fort Collins

Walgreens, Fort Collins (4502 S. College Ave.)

Walgreens, Fort Collins (2190 W. Drake Road)

Walmart, Fort Collins (1250 E. Magnolia St.)

Walmart, Fort Collins (4625 S. Mason St.)

Walmart, Loveland (250 W. 65th St.)

Walmart, Timnath

Walmart Distribution Center: November 2020, Loveland

Wellington Veterinary Clinic

Pat Ferrier is a senior reporter covering business, health care and growth issues in Northern Colorado. Contact her at patferrier@coloradoan.com. Please support her work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a subscription today.