More than 20 staff members at Waltonwood assisted living community in Ashburn have gone on leave after a resident died and another tested positive for COVID-19.
Loudoun County officials are investigating the situation after learning about the cases Tuesday evening.
"It's important to get staff in there, because you can't have a situation in their memory care center where their most vulnerable clients live,” Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) said during a joint conference call Wednesday with U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.).
Waltonwood Executive Director Christopher Leinauer confirmed the death and the additional positive case in a statement Wednesday night.
Leinauer said the community has had 23 staff members on emergency leave, 22 of whom are part of the dining services team.
Leinauer said the resident care team as not been impacted by the departures.
“The [on-leave] associates were mostly high school students who serve our fine dining experience,” Leinauer said. “This has not impacted our dining room operations significantly, as we moved to in-room dining in March. We currently have over 130 active employees at our community.”
Leinauer added, “All residents have been isolating in their apartments before the shelter-in-place was ordered in Virginia, and the community is working closely with the Loudoun County Health Department.”
The executive director said the infected associate is self-quarantining at home and will not return to Waltonwood Ashburn until 14 days from the latest date of potential exposure and they are symptom free.
Waltonwood is the latest senior living community to experience challenges during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Falcons Landing community in Sterling has had more than a dozen positive cases with residents, seven cases with staff and three deaths.
Loudoun County’s overall death toll related to COVID-19 stood at seven as of Wednesday morning.
Randall said county officials have been calling Waltonwood and other senior care facilities on a regular basis. The county has been collecting personal protective equipment for health care providers for several weeks.
“Even with monitoring them, Waltonwood is following incredibly stringent guidelines as to who goes in and how they go in and how the staff is allowed to go in, and then even with that they have some positive cases,” Randall said.
Leinauer said admissions to the community were stopped on March 16, care teams are wearing full PPE when entering affected or suspected resident apartments and all employees are wearing masks.
“Our community has adequate PPE and is using it in accordance to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines,” he said.
Randall added that senior centers are what county officials are “most concerned” about right now.
“We understand what's happening, we understand how worried staff is that they don't want to take it to their own children ... It's not just following the cases, it’s also making sure that they have the PPE they need and they are staffed appropriately," Randall said.
Correction and clarification: This story has been updated to correct the number of Waltonwood employees that are on emergency leave. It has also been updated with comments from Leinauer. The initial statement that 30 workers had walked off the job at Waltonwood was sourced from Loudoun County Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D).