Local Community Living homes hit hard by COVID-19

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Community Living in Wallaceburg and in Chatham are both dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks.

Blackburn News has learned five employees in Wallaceburg have tested positive for the virus.

Executive Director Deborah Hook confirmed the information late Thursday afternoon and said staff is doing everything it can to keep the virus from spreading.

Community Living Wallaceburg’s director of operations, Roger Romses, said the five employees work at two different homes and were immediately quarantined when they tested positive for the novel coronavirus. He added clients are not showing any symptoms of the virus but are being closely monitored and employees are now wearing full personal protective equipment.

On April 3, a 39-year-old woman was the first employee at Community Living Wallaceburg to test positive for COVID-19 and the agency implemented visitor restrictions right away.

Romses said staff at all of their homes have been routinely screened upon entry right from the beginning of the pandemic but it’s difficult to explain why their symptoms weren’t picked up. He said it could be because those with the virus show different symptoms and not all have a fever. He also said those who reside at the homes are getting their temperature taken several times a day to contain and minimize spreading the virus.

Community Living Chatham-Kent also has three employees with the virus. Two residents who tested positive in late March are back home recovering. All were from the same home.

Community Living Chatham-Kent’s executive director, Ron Coristine, is extending a big thank-you to his staff, families, and the community for coming together during this challenging period.

“The staff are providing essential services to people who have had their routines disrupted,” he said. “The staff’s compassion, commitment, and understanding are awesome.”

Public health officials said the homes in Wallaceburg for people with developmental disabilities run separately from the one in Chatham and as far as they know there is no sharing of staff but the investigation continues. They said the outbreaks are under control but can’t guarantee more positive cases won’t appear.