Sunnyside Retirement Community confirms 1st COVID-19 case

Photo from WHSV's Air3 drone
Photo from WHSV's Air3 drone(WHSV)
Published: Apr. 8, 2020 at 12:02 PM EDT
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A retirement community in Harrisonburg has confirmed the first case of COVID-19 connected to their facility.

According to Sunnyside Communities, their staff was notified on Tuesday afternoon that an employee had tested positive for COVID-19.

They say the diagnosis was immediately shared with the community's Medical Director and the their COVID-19 Task Force, designed to help stop any spread of the virus, which has been devastating in nursing homes and retirement communities across the country.

Residents and staff were notified on Wednesday morning.

Officials say the employee is self-isolating at home.

Sunnyside is working with the Virginia Department of Health to

with the employee who tested positive.

Staff considered at a high risk of exposure will be placed under self-isolation for two weeks, according to CDC guidelines. Residents living in the area where the employee had been working were immediately placed in isolation and are being closely monitored.

“While this is a day we anticipated may come, we had hoped that our aggressive and proactive approach would prevent entry of this virus onto our campus,” said Josh Lyons, president & CEO, Sunnyside Communities. “We are grateful for our partnership with the Virginia Department of Health and their involvement throughout this process.”

Starting in early March, Sunnyside established a task force on the coronavirus headed by its administrator of health services. They say the purpose of that task force was to review their policies and procedures on infectious diseases and establish new protocols to fight the spread of COVID-19.

The disease leads to especially severe symptoms for elderly patients and

at long-term care facilities, retirement communities, and nursing homes. The Canterbury Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center in Henrico has

. Many of West Virginia's first identified cases, and their first death, were at the Sundale nursing home in Morgantown.

Though the federal government has not been releasing a count of its own, an AP tally from media reports and state health departments indicated at least 450 deaths and nearly 2,300 infections had been linked to coronavirus outbreaks in nursing homes and long-term care facilities nationwide as of April 2, and that number has only grown.

In response, similar facilities nationwide have worked to be as proactive as possible in preventing the virus from spreading in their locations.

The case at Sunnyside is one of 36 total cases confirmed in Harrisonburg, according to the Central Shenandoah Health District, and one