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ABC-7 investigation finds rising Covid cases in El Paso’s senior living facilities

EL PASO, Texas -- An ABC-7 investigation found there are rising numbers of Covid-19 infections among adults in senior living facilities across El Paso, and City/County Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza confirmed ABC-7's findings.

ABC-7 learned through exhaustive digging using open records requests that some senior living facilities and nursing homes had one or two cases of residents and or staff testing positive for Covid-19, but others had a lot more.

All facilities must report Covid information, which the city of El Paso maintains.

The city data shows the El Paso state-supported Living Center has two cases, The Legacy at Cimarron has four cases and Pebble Creek Nursing Center has 6 cases, however those numbers are low when compared to some other facilities.

Montevista at Coronado has 13 cases, Regent Care Nursing Home has 19 cases and Vista Hills Health Care Center has a whopping 33 cases of Covid-19 in its facility, city data shows. 

We reached out to Montevista at Coronado's Executive Director Britt Aulie Tuesday for comment, however, he did not respond to us until Wednesday afternoon. Aulie told ABC-7 the nursing facility currently has zero cases. He explained it has not had any positive cases since October.

Ocaranza said there's a reason residents 65 and older are testing positive for the virus in growing numbers. He noted that even though there are high vaccination rates in these facilities, the efficacy of the vaccine is dropping, especially among that older age group.

"So with age, the waning of immunity is a lot faster. That is another one of the reasons why we encourage everybody to come and get the booster shot, because of that waning immunity and that leaves them vulnerable," he said.

Ocaranza added that there are also ways to prevent the spread in these facilities.

He said visitors should wear a mask when they are around the most vulnerable population, and that everyone who spends time around that age group - including nursing home workers - should be vaccinated.

In addition, the Health Authority said facilities that are experiencing an outbreak mode should test frequently. Outbreak mode is when a facility has several or more Covid cases.

"Outbreak mode, they need to be testing very frequently and focusing particularly in those that are symptomatic, and those that are unvaccinated as well. We continue to provide support and recommendations. But also the people that will visit their loved ones at these facilities they need to be cognizant that they need to be wearing a mask. They need to be staying home if they're sick," Ocaranza said.

However, not all the facilities are following all of Ocaranza's advice.

Saul Saenz

El Paso native Saul Saenz is a veteran reporter who also hosts ABC-7 Extra.

Comments

6 Comments

      1. You can become re-infected after your natural immunity wanes. You’re only good for between 90 and 120 days. The older you are, the faster the immunity weakens.

        1. Re-infections with natural immunity are much weaker. Usually symptom free. The pandemic is over. Their just trying to keep it Live because they need mail in ballots for the 2022 election.

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