3 Senior Services residents at Benefis test positive for COVID-19

Posted at 11:40 AM, Oct 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-04 17:22:28-04

GREAT FALLS — In a news release Sunday morning, Benefis Health System confirmed three coronavirus cases among residents of the Senior Services division.

They are the first confirmed coronavirus cases in Benefis' Senior Services division. They were announced after Benefis conducted testing of all residents across the three Senior Services campuses.

The COVID-19-positive residents are no longer in Senior Services, according to the release. Preliminary contact tracing indicated the residents were likely exposed by an infected staff member.

Benefis did not release any further information as of Sunday morning. The conditions and symptoms of the patients are unclear. Their identities have also not been released.

Senior Services closed to visitors on March 13 and remains closed. Benefis Hospital reopened to visitors with restrictions on June 26, one day after Governor Steve Bullock eased restrictions on nursing homes in the state. Benefis officials told MTN News earlier this week that Senior Services is in the process of implementing limited visitation, as required by the governor's order and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

“Unfortunately as the COVID-19 virus continues to spread, it has now reached our organization," Dave Krebs, Benefis Senior Services’ chief operating officer, said in the release. "However, we are confident the proactive plans we developed in preparation for this scenario will allow us to contain further the spread of the virus among our residents.”

Benefis Hospital is under a limited visitation policy, in compliance with the Cascade City-County Health Department guidelines.

Earlier this week, at a press conference with Bullock and other hospital leaders across the state, Benefis revealed that it's operating at 115% capacity, with 37 coronavirus patients — seven of them in the Intensive Care Unit.

As of Sunday morning, Cascade County has reported a cumulative number of 879 cases, an increase of 20 from Saturday. Of those, 438 are currently listed as active, and six people have died.

We will update you if we learn more.

CDC: The federal Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) released data last month which emphasizes that people with contributing or underlying medical conditions are at much greater risk of dying from COVID-19. According to the CDC, an estimated 94% of all COVID-related deaths in the nation were people who had contributing medical conditions and diseases. The CDC report states: "For 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned. For deaths with conditions or causes in addition to COVID-19, on average, there were 2.6 additional conditions or causes per death." The report states that the most common underlying medical conditions that contributed to COVID-related deaths include respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, asthma, and COPD; diabetes; hyptertensive diseases; and heart disease. Click here to learn more on the CDC website.

The CDC also recently released an update to their research into fatality rates associated with COVID-19. A summary of COVID-19 survival rates is shown below; the summary is one of five based on several scenarios. The CDC data and scenarios can be found here.

COVID-19 Survival Rates

  • Age 0-19: 99.997%
  • Age 20-49: 99.98%
  • Age 50-69: 99.5%
  • Age 70+: 94.6%

The CDC says the scenarios are intended to advance public health preparedness and planning, and are not predictions or estimates of the expected impact of COVID-19. The parameter values in each scenario will be updated and augmented over time, as the agency learns more about the epidemiology of COVID-19. The update from September 10th is based on data received by the CDC through August 8.