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.
Columbine Health Systems is pulling out a new tool to fight COVID-19 outbreaks among its eight long-term care facilities in Larimer and Weld counties.
As of April 1, all Columbine staff will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The policy comes after the number of staff and residents testing positive in the facilities spiked.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment this week reported 153 cases among residents and staff at Columbine’s North Shore Health and Rehabilitation Center in Loveland. Three residents have died, according to the state health department.
The outbreak, North Shore’s third since the pandemic began, is the largest in Larimer County, overtaking Sierra Vista Health Care Center’s 127 cases since mid-November. Fifteen Sierra Vista residents have died, according to health department data.
On Wednesday, CDPHE reported 12 new outbreaks in the county, bringing the total number of active outbreaks to 78. That’s down from 86 active outbreaks as of Jan. 6, and it’s the lowest number of active outbreaks the county has seen since mid-November, when outbreaks began rising rapidly as COVID-19 spread throughout the community.
Among the newly reported outbreaks is an 11-case outbreak at Larimer County’s Community Corrections facility. Of those cases, eight are among staff.
Other outbreaks with more than five positive cases were newly reported at:
- Studio West Dance Company in Fort Collins, with 10 positive cases among dance students. The state determined the outbreak on Tuesday. Studio owner and artistic director Jennifer Knostman said the outbreak showed up right after Poudre School District’s holiday break. The studio had been closed for 16 days prior to that. The studio shut down before the first case was reported and will continue to operate virtually through next Thursday.
- Boltz Middle School in Fort Collins, with 15 cases among students. While the outbreak appeared active in the state data this week, it appears to be the same outbreak that was previously listed as resolved as of Jan. 1. Poudre School District didn’t respond to a request for clarification in time for the Coloradoan’s print deadline, but the district is listing the outbreak as “resolved” on its own data page.
- Spring Creek Healthcare Center in Fort Collins, with 12 cases among staff and three cases among residents, according to the state data. The onset date of the outbreak is listed as Jan. 4. SavaSeniorCare, owner of the facility, couldn’t provide additional information by the Coloradoan’s print deadline.
At MorningStar Senior Living, 3509 Lochwood Drive, Fort Collins, three staff members have tested positive since Dec. 31, but the outbreak has been resolved, said Stacy Shellenberger, regional vice president of operations.
“We are very proud of the protocol and practices we put in place that have kept it contained and out of our building given (Fort Collins’) positivity rate,” she said. “It’s no small feat.”
MorningStar held a vaccination clinic for staff and residents with the Pfizer vaccine on Friday, Shellenberger said.
Columbine takes drastic measures
Columbine Health Systems’ nursing homes have been hit hard by the coronavirus with the first case in the county reported at North Shore in March. Other outbreaks have been reported at Lemay Avenue Health and Rehabilitation, Centre Avenue Health and Rehabilitation, and Columbine West Health and Rehabilitation Facility since the start of the pandemic.
Columbine began vaccinating residents and staff in late December and had its second clinic this week. Another is scheduled next week.
Yvonne Myers, director of health systems, said about 95% of residents have been vaccinated. “We feel the vaccine is the way for us to help our residents live normal lives again and get past these outbreaks,” she said. For that to happen, she said, everyone in the facilities needs to be vaccinated.
On Tuesday, it notified staff that by April 1 everyone will need to be vaccinated, unless there is a medical reason that prevents vaccination. “If it’s something people don’t agree with, they will need to find other employment,” Myers said. “We feel like it’s a decision we needed to make and communicate that to our employees.”
The deadline is more than two months away, she said, because Columbine is waiting until it receives the vaccines in house. “We feel like April 1 is when our pharmacist can get the vaccines.” Until then, staff can still be vaccinated at its two upcoming clinics.
Currently, Walgreens is conducting vaccination clinics at Columbine’s facilities.
Roughly 70 of about 100 staff members at North Shore were vaccinated this week, she said.
Columbine has 12 skilled nursing, assisted living and independent living centers as well as several home care, infusion therapy and other services.
County spokesperson Michelle Bird told the Coloradoan on Thursday the first positive test at Larimer County Community Corrections program was reported Dec. 30 and the most recent came on Tuesday.
The second positive test result came Jan. 4, indicating active transmission within the facility and resulted in the health department classifying it as an outbreak.
Five clients and eight staff members have tested positive, two more than the state reported in its outbreak data released Wednesday. State data can lag behind by days, sometimes weeks.
Since then, Community Corrections has received results from another 117 tests. All were negative, Bird said. Clients who test positive for COVID-19 are being isolated offsite at a fully staffed location, Bird said.
The county signed an intergovernmental agreement with the Health District of Northern Larimer County for the offsite quarantine “many months ago in anticipation of positive tests among its residents,” she said.
On Jan. 4, all clients in the cohort were quarantined separately at an offsite location, Bird said. The third positive test, Jan. 6, came from the same room and cohort. One of the three residents from that room was asymptomatic, one had a runny nose, and one had a sore throat and runny nose. One client had been transferred to another correctional facility before her test results came back positive and that facility was notified immediately, Bird said.
“There is no indication that any clients were infected by staff or that clients infected any staff,” she said.
Community Corrections, 2255 Midpoint Drive, is an alternative to a prison sentence for lower-level convictions. Clients can leave the facility for work and return after their shifts.
Community Corrections staff and clients are tested weekly. In addition, new intakes, anyone who shows symptoms and anyone who requests a test is tested.
“By the time the outbreak hit, we had already started surveillance testing, so no additional changes to our testing strategy were required,” Bird said.
New intakes are tested and quarantined for 14 days; clients live in cohorts and cannot congregate outside their cohorts, dorm capacity has been decreased to meet health department recommendations, and each client and staff member must fill out a daily symptom survey along with temperature check, according to the county.
Masks are required and social distancing guidelines are observed, Bird said.
Thus far, no staff or client has been vaccinated, but Bird said the county believes staff will be part of the early Phase 1B set to be completed by the end of February. “There hasn’t been clarification from the state what category the clients will fall into, but we are requesting they be vaccinated as soon as possible,” she said.
Active COVID-19 outbreaks in Larimer County
Note: Asterisks indicate outbreaks newly reported since Jan. 7. 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
Berthoud Living Center senior living provider
Blevins Middle School, Fort Collins
Blue Spruce Temporary Shelter, Fort Collins
*Boltz Middle School, Fort Collins(Editor’s note: This outbreak was newly reported this week but has an onset date of Oct. 28, 2020. The state and county had previously reported an outbreak at Boltz with that onset date was resolved as of Jan. 1. The school district didn’t respond to a Coloradoan request for comment.)
Broadcom Inc., Fort Collins
Brookdale Fort Collins Assisted Living
Canyon Bakehouse (food manufacturing and packaging facility), Johnstown
*Center at Rock Creek skilled nursing facility (Editor’s note: This outbreak was newly reported this week but has an onset date of Nov. 24, 2020. The facility didn’t respond to a Coloradoan request for comment.)
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
Courtyard of Loveland Assisted Living
DaVinci Sign Systems LLC, Windsor
DH Wholesale Signs, Fort Collins
Dyecrest Dairy LLC, Fort Collins
Ed Carroll Motor Co.
*Elk Ridge Dentistry, Estes Park
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
Good Samaritan Society – Fort Collins Village (retirement community)
Good Samaritan Society – Loveland Village (retirement community)
Grease Monkey, Loveland (1100 Eagle Drive)
Hach Co., Loveland
Happy Horse Tack Shop, Fort Collins
*Henry’s Pub, Loveland
I-Kota Construction – Mason Place job site, Fort Collins
JMP Heat Inc., Loveland
*Larimer County Community Corrections
Larimer County Jail
Lemay Avenue Health & Rehabilitation: November 2020, Fort Collins
Liberty Common High School, Fort Collins
Loveland Classical Lyceum Campus
*Loveland Youth Clinic
McDonald’s, Fort Collins (3512 S. Timberline Road)
*MorningStar of Fort Collins Assisted Living
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
Park Regency Loveland Assisted Living
*Parry’s Pizza, Johnstown
Respite Care, Inc.
Resurrection Christian School, Loveland
Rocky Mountain High School, Fort Collins
Rocky Mountain Plumbing and Hydroheat
Sam’s Club, Loveland(Editor’s note: Previous Coloradoan stories incorrectly noted the location of the Sam’s Club.)
Shepardson Elementary, Fort Collins
Sierra Vista Healthcare Center, Loveland
*South Shields Dental, Fort Collins
*Spring Creek Healthcare Center, Fort Collins
*Studio West Dance Center, Fort Collins
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, Loveland (1100 Nickel Drive)
The Home Depot, Fort Collins (1251 E. Magnolia St.)
Trader Joe’s, Fort Collins
*Trumpet Behavioral Health, Loveland
Walgreens, Fort Collins (4502 S. College Ave.)
Walgreens, Fort Collins (2190 W. Drake Road)
Walmart, Loveland (250 W. 65th St.)
Walmart, Fort Collins (1250 E. Magnolia St.)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Please support her work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a subscription today.