Like many long-term care facilities, Payson Care Center is dealing with COVID-19 cases among residents and staff.

As of Dec. 10, 30 residents were sick along with 23 employees. Three residents were hospitalized.

While two residents have recovered, another six have died.

“We are heartbroken by the loss of members of our resident family. We mourn with their loved ones and extend our sympathies. Our incredible associates have worked so hard and continue to go above and beyond each day,” said Gary Olson, executive director, in a Dec. 10 release. Olson has since contracted COVID-19. He said the numbers reflect only the current situation, not an overview of the entire pandemic’s impact on the facility.

The facility isolates any resident who tests positive, and associates who test positive only return to work once CDC guidelines for returning to work have been met.

Currently, all residents and staff who have not previously tested positive are tested twice per week. Residents are monitored throughout the day and night, and associates are screened when they arrive and leave.

Olson said they are committed to providing a high level of service in a safe environment.

“From the beginning of the pandemic, our associates have followed all guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. We continue to work closely with the local health department, the Arizona Department of Health and the Agency for Health Care Administration as our associates battle COVID-19,” he said.

The latest details from Payson Care Center:

• 41 resident cases — 30 active resident cases in the facility; three are currently hospitalized; two have recovered; and six residents have passed away.

• 31 associate cases — 23 active cases; and eight recoveries.

“We stay in consistent communication with the loved ones of residents, and we welcome their questions at any time. Visitation remains restricted, but we are happy to coordinate video or phone calls. We are thankful for the support and prayers from the community during this difficult time,” Olson concluded.

County report

As of Dec. 14, the Gila County Department of Health and Emergency Management reported a total of 114 deaths in Gila County; 74 are non-tribal and 40 are tribal residents.

The most recent death, as of Dec. 15, was a resident of Payson.

The department confirmed 79 additional cases of COVID-19 Monday, Dec. 14 — 31 in Payson; 19 in Globe; 10 in Miami; nine in Winkelman; two each in Pine and Strawberry; one each in Tonto Basin, Hayden, Roosevelt and Star Valley. The county’s seven assisted living facilities have 190 residents with confirmed COVID-19 cases and 117 staff members. The report shows 44 deaths in these facilities and 182 recoveries.

So far, the county has seen 1,757 confirmed cases of the disease and 1,310 recoveries. There are 369 active cases in the county — Payson has 186, with 96 in Globe.

Vaccines for Gila County

The state is making the first allocations of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to Maricopa and Pima counties.

Gila County and other rural counties will receive the Moderna vaccine. It could arrive at the county’s site between Monday, Dec. 21 and Wednesday, Dec. 23, depending on Emergency Use Authorization, according to Josh Beck, Gila County Emergency Management, who directs the local COVID-19 response.

He said the vaccine the county is expecting does not require the ultra-cold storage. However, the county has a small transportable ultra-cold storage freezer in place and ready, with a very large ultra-cold storage freezer set to be delivered the first week of the new year, probably by Jan. 4.

It is not written in stone, but Gila County’s current proposed allocation for the initial shipment is 1,800 doses.

Contact the reporter at tmcquerrey@payson.com

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