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Outbreak at two Wisconsin Veterans home facilities

Local News

KING, Wis. (WFRV) As Wisconsin’s COVID-19 cases rise, so do cases in our most vulnerable communities–Veterans facilities.

The Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) talks with Local Five about what they’re doing to control the latest outbreak at two of their facilities.

The Wisconsin DVA sent a letter to family members that their King facility currently has eight members and four staff testing positive for COVID-19.

Another letter that their Chippewa Falls facility has two employees testing positive for COVID-19 and officials say this number could increase.

Diane Lynch, DVA Homes Division Administrator says, “I do think that as we enter this period of frequent testing we will see more positive because we are testing everyone, members and staff at a higher frequency.”

Steps are being taken to control this outbreak, but officials say one component is difficult to mitigate.

Lynch says, “There’s no common dining. There are limited group activities. There’s no visitors all to try to limit that spread, but I think one of the factors that we can’t control is staffing.”

In a state with rising COVID-19 cases, Veterans Affairs officials say its no surprise that workers could bring the virus into their facilities.

Lynch says, “Staff go out into the community and live their own lives and as best they can protect themselves from being exposed to COVID, but they are out in the community and that’s where COVID is being transmitted.”

If a staff member becomes infected, it’s not easy to replace them, Lynch says back in August, the federal VA sent additional staff to support their Union Grove facility due to an outbreak.

“Care-givers are in high demand, very difficult to find, and it’s a crisis in our industry that COVID has just added to that crisis,” Lynch adds.

DVA officials tell Local Five that Union Grove has not reported any positive COVID-19 cases and they’re confident that their current positive cases will be managed in a way that keeps the outbreak limited to a short duration.

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