Officials work to protect nursing home residents from coronavirus: 'Let's hope it doesn't come'

GLENDALE -- With 19 of 24 coronavirus deaths in Washington state tied to one nursing home, officials at Laurel Oaks said Tuesday, March 10 they're taking steps to protect residents, taking steps like putting signs on the door, advising visitors to stay away if they're sick.

Ralph Drees has been living at Laurel Oaks for 10 years, and the 91-year-old said health is top of mind.

"I do some walking around the building here just to exercise every day, and I eat three good meals, and I get some sleep," said Drees. "I've got a bunch of other seniors to talk to. It's nice to do this. We've got a variety of activities that we do and have here."

Ralph Drees

"30% of the people who live here are over 90 years old," said Beth Anderson, VP of the Laureate Group. "They are a vulnerable part of our group, and they don't need any new viruses walking through the front door."

Anderson noted a multi-tiered approach to prepare eight senior communities if the coronavirus should make its way to southeast Wisconsin.

"We started double-checking our supplies, making sure we had a supply, a good supply of gloves and gowns, white soda, some of the things in the dining room you would expect, and started being a little bit more diligent on cleaning," said Anderson.

"We've got a bunch of seniors that are here," said Drees. "Let's hope it doesn't come to us."

Officials with the Laureate Group were in contact with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, and getting updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Next steps could involve screening visitors or blocking visitors from entering the facility.