Racine County officials issue lockdown, PPE order for long-term care facilities

RACINE COUNTY -- Racine County officials on Monday, March 23 issued two orders related to long-term care facilities amid the COVID-19 pandemic -- locking down all long-term care facilities in the county, and requiring the use of personal protective equipment by staff.

The orders were issued with confirmed cases of COVID0-19 in Wisconsin long-term care facilities as well as facilities in other states. A similar order was issued by Washington/Ozaukee health officials on March 21, and in line with CDC guidance which identifies these facilities at high risk for untoward consequences of COVID-19 due to the vulnerable nature of the residents and the risks associated with congregate settings.

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted all nursing homes should assume COVID-19 is in their community, including communities where it is not yet reported.

According to a news release, the first order requires ALL long-term care facilities to lock down immediately which includes nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and memory care facilities. The order provides actions to take on visitor restrictions, health care personnel infection prevention strategies, resident monitoring and restrictions, general infection control, managing personal protection equipment (PPE), and supply shortages, reporting to the health department, and requires documentation of residents who leave the facility for any reason.

The second order requires that until further notice, ALL first responders and emergency medical services personnel shall be required to wear personal protective equipment when responding to all health emergency calls including those requesting assistance at long-term care facilities, and nursing homes. Personal protective equipment at a minimum shall include face masks, goggles, and gloves.

The release Monday noted "while first responders are currently equipped, Racine County and the Racine County EOC are actively seeking and acquiring more personal protection equipment to ensure those working on the front lines are protected in the long term."