December 29: COVID-19 Update

We hope residents, families, and team members enjoyed time with loved ones during the recent holiday. As expected with increased gatherings, a spike in COVID cases nationally is occurring, however, there is some positive news regarding the variant, Omicron, that is causing the rising case numbers.

The data coming in on the Omicron variant has shown that it appears to present a less severe version of the coronavirus and is less likely to cause individuals to be hospitalized, particularly in vaccinated people who have received boosters. The spread of the Omicron variant is proving to be rapid, but with milder illness and much fewer hospitalizations. With high vaccination rates amongst our residents and team members, our communities have made great strides in protecting ourselves against Omicron.

Last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released revised guidelines regarding return-to-work criteria for healthcare workers who experience a high-risk exposure or a COVID infection. Our communities will be implementing new procedures in response to this new CDC guidance. Isolation and quarantine periods have been reduced which will help with stabilizing our workforce by reducing the amount of time team members need to be away from the community. We will continue to be diligent with infection control practices and keep the health and well-being of residents and team members our top priority.

The CDC also issued new guidance this past Monday regarding isolation and quarantine procedures as they relate to COVID for the general population. This guidance does not apply to healthcare workers or those who reside in our healthcare, assisted living, and memory support areas. This was clarified through communication we received from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) today. The guidance for residents in our higher levels of living remains unchanged. Residents who reside in independent living will have isolation and quarantine periods applied, only as needed, based on the assessment of individual situations by the communities’ clinical leadership teams. As a reminder, if you reside in IL and think you have experienced an exposure, please report your concern to the clinic or a member of the clinical team.

We don’t want to let our guard down, however, we feel confident in our continued response to collaboratively fight the COVID-19 virus. With the strides our communities have made in the last three months with team member vaccination rates, vaccine booster clinics, and with county transmission rates and COVID-related hospitalizations declining or holding steady, we are confident we will continue with a successful response.

Please know our communities have no plans to restrict visitation, communal dining, or communal programming at any level of living. Communities will continue to evaluate operations while balancing safety with personal choice and social well-being, as we have done throughout the pandemic.

Everyone should continue to be diligent with self-monitoring for signs and symptoms of illness. Though not currently required, team members working in the IL areas should consider resuming wearing a mask while in the independent living (IL) areas of the communities even if fully vaccinated. LifeSpire is strongly recommending that all team members in the IL areas wear a mask while on duty in order to reduce transmission risk, particularly amongst team members. Communities are working hard to ensure team member absences are minimal as possible. Mask wearing guidelines for healthcare, assisted living and memory support remain unchanged.

NOTE: All residents, regardless of the level of living, and all team members must wear a mask when entering therapy rooms. Our therapy rooms are operated by our team of therapists and residents from all levels of living to utilize these areas.

• All team members who enter the higher levels of care, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a mask—this continues to be the guidance of the CDC and VDH (Virginia Department of Health) and requirement of CMS.
• Any resident or team member who is fully vaccinated and wishes to continue to wear a mask is welcome to do so.
• Team members and residents should report signs/symptoms of COVID-19 immediately.
• If you haven’t received a COVID-19 vaccine or booster vaccine, please consider getting the vaccine or booster to protect yourself, residents, team members, family members and others.
• There are variances in the COVID screening process at each community due to differing and multiple exits and entry points of the communities. Any changes related to the screening process will be communicated by community leadership.