California Department of Veterans Affairs implemented early plan to prepare for and reduce risk of COVID-19
California was among the first states to halt visits to veterans homes
No active resident cases in California’s state-run veterans homes, and only 3 of 2,400 residents have tested positive for COVID-19 since start of crisis
Governor Gavin Newsom today issued a proclamation declaring May 25, 2020, as “Memorial Day” in the State of California. The Governor on Friday joined California Secretary of Veterans Affairs Vito Imbasciani, MD, to lay a wreath in honor of fallen service members at the Veterans Home of California, Yountville — the largest veterans home in the nation.
The Governor also highlighted the state’s efforts to protect vulnerable residents in California’s veterans homes.
“On Memorial Day, we take time to recognize and remember the service members who died fighting for our freedom,” said Governor Newsom. “We also honor the veterans who are still with us. CalVet has worked around the clock to put into practice the best science and prevention measures to save as many lives as possible in veterans homes, which can be high-risk settings. ”
The Governor detailed California’s proactive approach to minimizing potential COVID-19 outbreaks at the state’s eight veterans homes, which house 2,400 veterans. Three veterans home residents have tested positive for COVID-19 statewide since the start of the pandemic and there are zero active resident cases. Fourteen staff members have tested positive, with no fatalities, and all but two have fully recovered and returned to work.
California is working tirelessly to keep residents safe in the veterans homes across the state. The state took a proactive approach to COVID-19 and was one of the first to prohibit visits to residents, preventing an early surge in cases.
The California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) sprung into action at the start of the pandemic, initiating infection control measures in February. Led by Secretary Vito Imbasciani, CalVet implemented a 38-point plan to prepare for COVID-19 and stop the spread within veterans homes.
Each veterans home has its own detailed emergency operations plan based on the best science and unique characteristics of the home. Every staff member — not just nurses — receive infection control training and each home has a certified infection control prevention nurse on staff.
At each home, staff have their temperature taken every morning and wear face coverings. Rigorous testing is conducted and approximately one in three residents and staff have been tested since the start of the crisis. Suspected COVID-19 cases are closely monitored around the clock and CalVet is in aggressive coordination with local public health to stem any larger outbreaks.
In Yountville, the Governor also called on Californians to practice safety measures this weekend. He reminded Californians that while Memorial Day weekend is a much-needed break for many of us, we cannot drop our guard against COVID-19. Even as our economy gradually re-opens, we must stay vigilant against COVID-19 by:
- Sticking close to home
- Shopping, hiking or exploring locally; and
- Staying safe by avoiding large gatherings, maintaining physical distance and wearing face coverings when we are out.