A resident of a Duluth assisted living facility where one case of COVID-19 has been recorded says he fears there will be more.
“I quit going to have breakfast because dozens of people were coughing and sneezing,” said Teddy Rosenberg, 67, who lives in St. Ann’s Residence in the Central Hillside neighborhood.
A St. Ann's resident was diagnosed with the illness on Friday, chief executive officer Scott Johnson said Tuesday. The resident was hospitalized, but Johnson wasn't aware of the individual's current status.
He agreed with Rosenberg that more cases are likely to come.
"Inevitably," Johnson said. "The facility is compromised. ... It's going to be the same here as what you see in the world. It's highly contagious. It's airborne."
Essentia Health's infection control team is testing everyone with symptoms, Johnson said.
The illness, for which common symptoms include coughing but not sneezing, has been particularly dangerous for the elderly and people with underlying health conditions. That makes senior living facilities an area of special concern for health officials.
A Duluth native who is legally blind, Rosenberg said he believes COVID-19 could have been introduced to St. Ann’s when a family member from New York visited a resident on his floor for a few days. Each floor has its own dining room, he said, and the visitor sat at a table with residents.
Although New York City has been the epicenter of the disease in the U.S., Johnson noted that it had been more than three weeks since residents dined together. The facility shut down its dining rooms March 16 and since then has been delivering meals to its patients doors.
People diagnosed with COVID-19 are quarantined for 14 days under U.S. Centers for Disease Control and prevention guidelines.
"As far as a visitor from New York, nothing that I'm aware of," Johnson said. "A lot of people live here, and a lot of people visit."
Rosenberg said movement within St. Ann’s now is severely restricted, and he’s no longer allowed to leave his apartment.
But Johnson said residents are free to move throughout the building and also have access to a large outdoor courtyard.
St. Ann's has been on what's described on its website as a "full quarantine" since Saturday and previously had closed its building to visitors.
Residents are being urged to observe Gov. Tim Walz's shelter-at-home order, Johnson said.
"No one's getting tackled or pushed apart with a stick to stay 6 feet apart," he said. "But every letter I've put out has been reiterating what the governor has asked of you and me, to stay home and stay in."