Williamson County confirms first COVID-19 cluster at nursing home


WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Authorities in Williamson County have confirmed the area’s first cluster of COVID-19 cases at a nursing home.

In total, 46 people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus at the same facility, including residents and staff.

The Williamson County and Cities Health District (WCCHD) said it is working closely with the facility in question to mitigate the spread. An investigation is ongoing.

“Our top priority, from the beginning, has been to protect our most vulnerable residents,” said County Judge Bill Gravell.

“We are putting all of the resources we have available into isolating this cluster so that no others will be infected.” 

Dr. Lori Palazzo, Williamson County and Cities Health District Health Authority, said all patients and staff at the facility were tested “immediately.”

On April 23, WCCHD updated its control orders, which apply to 65 facilities including assisted living, nursing homes, skilled nursing, and long-term care facilities. 

Under the updated order, all patients, staff and next of kin will be notified of any confirmed case within a facility.

In the event of a cluster, the facility cannot receive new or returning patients until it is cleared to do so, and must make all staff available for testing if required.

In addition, a “strike team” of extra personnel and equipment may be deployed to assist staff.

Six people have died from COVID-19 in Williamson County. In total, 211 people in the county have been diagnosed with the virus.

In neighboring Travis County, there have been at least 16 deaths, including a staff member, linked to outbreaks across eight nursing home or assisted living facilities.

FULL COVERAGE: Tracking COVID-19 cases in nursing homes

As COVID-19 cases spread across Texas, another startling trend is growing inside facilities housing some of the state’s most vulnerable. Experts say residents in nursing homes and retirement centers are at great risk due to their age, often-compromised immune systems and close-living quarters. While state health officials have refused to publicly release which of those sites have confirmed tested, infected, quarantined or deceased residents and staff, KXAN investigators are tracking and confirming these cases independently in Central Texas. If you have a tip, fill out our secure form below or email us at investigates@kxan.com.

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