The state of Texas has asked Fort Bend County health authorities to help investigate the COVID-19 deaths at the Richmond State Supported School and prevent further deaths, officials announced Thursday.
“We were saddened when we learned in the news media of the Richmond State Supported Living Center residents who were hospitalized and passed away from this terrible invisible enemy,” said Fort Bend County Judge KP George. “Every single loss of life is heartbreaking for their families and loved ones.”
George did not disclose how many residents at the center died from the novel coronavirus. However, he said the state asked the county to help identify other possible victims and help prevent the further spread of COVID-19.
“Dr. Jacquelyn Minter and her team continue to support the state agencies -— at their request -— to help ensure positive results for the residents and staff of this state facility.”
Dr. Minter is director of the Fort Bend County Health Authority and the Fort Bend County Health and Human Services Department, which are leading the battle to combat the spread of coronavirus countywide. George said Fort Bend County started to assist in an epidemiological investigation at the state supported school on March 28 at the state’s request.
“The Department of State Health Services, which has the authority to investigate cases of communicable diseases at state owned and operated facilities, requested the county’s assistance,” George said. “Also, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, which operates the state assisted living facilities, including the (state supported school in Richmond), asked for participation.”
The governor released new guidance on May 13 on what actions should be taken for a variety of nursing facilities, George added. Fort Bend County is assisting in protecting the residents and staff at the school by:
- Authorizing spending $84,000 of county funds to pay for FDA-approved COVID-19 tests. The tests were given to staff and residents in order to get a speedy and clear snapshot of the spread of the virus on the campus.
- Implementing prevention and control measures, which include a no-visitation policy; taking staff temperature and symptom checking before and after shifts; referring patients needing a higher level of care to the appropriate medical facility; grouping patients with COVID-19 and grouping the staff who care for them; isolating positive residents from the other residents; and exclusion of high risk, exposed staff from the facility for 14 days.
- Contracting with a commercial laboratory to support the state’s effort to test all the residents and staff on the campus.
- Providing office space at the Rosenberg Annex for state agency staff to work from when needed. n Make available infection control practitioners and epidemiologists to provide supportive expert and technical advice to the state agencies as needed to fight COVID-19 at the RSSLC.