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The Scarlet & Black

St. Francis Manor confirms seven new cases of COVID-19

St. Francis Manor in Grinnell is the site of a new COVID-19 outbreak in Grinnell. Photo by Jackson Schulte.

St. Francis Manor in Grinnell confirmed today that six staff members and one resident of the long-term care facility have tested positive for COVID-19. The greater St. Francis Manor & Seeland Park community, which serves those over the age of 55, is engaged in an ongoing struggle with the virus. The S&B reported in March that St. Francis Manor & Seeland Park had reported its first case of COVID-19.

According to Tiffany Criswell, an administrator at St. Francis, the infected employees are in isolation in their homes. Additionally, she said that infected employees only had contact with residents at St. Francis Manor, designated a “Healthcare Center” for residents who need severe medical attention, as opposed to residents of Seeland Park or the Hammond Center, the complex’s “Independent Living” and “Assisted Living” centers. The previous case identified on the campus in March was, however, a resident living at Seeland Park, the independent living center.

In a press release provided to The S&B, Criswell wrote that “The St. Francis Manor resident continues to be quarantined in their room and seems to be improving.”

Senior living centers have been severely impacted by COVID-19, as older residents, often with pre-existing medical conditions, are extremely susceptible to the virus. Because residents often live in close proximity to each other, community spread is common.

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) defines a COVID-19 outbreak in a long term care facility to be when three or more residents have been infected with the virus. With only one resident but six staff members currently infected, it is unclear whether that means St. Francis Manor will be officially considered the site of an outbreak.

The IDPH uses a point system to track the severity of COVID-19 in the state that includes long term care facility outbreaks. As of publishing, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has not issued a shelter-in-place order for the state based on current data.

At the time of this article’s publication, Dion Schrack, executive administrator at St. Francis Manor and Seeland Park, turned down a request for an interview from The S&B.

“Our priority now is to focus on the residents and our staff,” Schrack wrote.

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