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Will Rogers on precautionary lockdown

Two employees’ spouses test positive for COVID-19

Saranac Village at Will Rogers (Photo provided)

SARANAC LAKE — The Saranac Village at Will Rogers elder residence is going into a precautionary lockdown after the spouses of two different employees tested positive for COVID-19 this week.

“Although both employees, themselves, have tested negative … there is still a chance of exposure here in the building,” Executive Director Jamie Whidden wrote in an email to staff, residents and families Wednesday afternoon, after the spouses’ results were reported.

He said the two employees have been tested within the past eight days and that both received negative results. They have been asked to quarantine at home until the Essex and Franklin County health departments can conduct more contact tracing.

“The employees with the possible exposure are making lists of the names of any residents and staff that they have come in contact with for the purposes of contact tracing,” Whidden wrote. “If there is any action residents and employees need to take such as further testing, you will be notified.”

Whidden said all residents have been asked to quarantine in their apartments until further notice and shouldn’t come out except in case of a medical emergency. Will Rogers has temporarily suspended communal dining, so all meals are being delivered to residents at their apartments.

“We just believe it is prudent for them to be in their apartments at this time,” Whidden said Thursday. “It’s never easy but this isn’t the first time we’ve had to do a lockdown.”

The last time Will Rogers locked down, in April, no one tested positive.

All activities are temporarily suspended, so Whidden said staff are delivering games and crossword puzzles to residents’ apartments and trying to keep them entertained.

Staff will not go out for any errands unless it involves picking up medication. Whidden said they’ve been asked to be extra-careful in and out of work.

“We have always let staff know what they do outside of work could have an impact on the residents we care for,” Whidden said. “The employees that work here take this responsibility seriously.”

Visitation from aides and family who serve as aides are restricted for now, except for in cases of absoluty necessary health care. Whidden also said though they cannot currently facilitate videoconferencing between residents and family, he encourages people to call them at their apartment phones.

Whidden said he is not sure if the quarantine will last through Thanksgiving next week, adding that being cooped up at this time of year is especially hard for residents.

“We encourage community members to give their friends here at Will Rogers a call to cheer them up,” Whidden said. “Especially around this time, Thanksgiving, when it is difficult to be apart from loved ones. … It would mean a lot.”

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