Valley nursing homes see huge drop in COVID cases

The coronavirus plagued all 7 Dycora nursing home facilities in Fresno County, infecting 426 residents in all. But today they have 0 cases.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- When the pandemic reached the Central Valley nearly a year ago, nursing homes were some of the hardest hit.

Many facilities suffered outbreaks that ravaged older populations, creating a high death toll.

Shortages in PPE made matters worse, leaving caretakers defenseless against the virus.

Maria Xiquin, director of the Central Valley's Service Employees International Union, known as SEIU, represents some of those working at nursing homes.

"Some of them were using trash bags and some of them were buying their own PPE," she recalls.

Dycora CEO Julianne Williams says fortunately that was never the case at her skilled nursing facilities, although at times they struggled to secure PPE.

Wiliams says the virus plagued all seven Fresno County Dycoras.

In all, 426 residents were infected.

"We did see some transmission in our centers and it has been very, very difficult for our teams," says Williams.

But today they have zero cases.

Wiliams says the vaccine is now turning the tide of the pandemic.

So far they've had three vaccination clinics.

She says vaccination rates vary at each of their centers, but some have hit 100% among residents.

"Even after the first dose within a few weeks, there was about a 22% reduction of patients that had COVID in the skilled nursing facilities," says Williams.

Xiquin, the director of SEIU, says a year later there are signs of improvement in the workplace, but staffing shortages continue to plague some facilities.

She says as the vaccine rolls out, SEIU is making sure it gets to their members.
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