Local News

"Strike Team" fights coronavirus in Orange County

Posted April 28, 2020 4:12 p.m. EDT
Updated April 28, 2020 5:24 p.m. EDT

Posing with masks

Counties across the Triangle are finding new ways to quickly respond to coronavirus outbreaks at nursing homes. In Orange County, the Health and Emergency Services Department developed a public health 'strike team.'

The team considers themselves a pivotal link between the recommendations and information presented by CDC and the local residents, working to ensure that information doesn’t get lost in translation.

“The strike team comes to reinforce some of those ideas, and we can help out,” said Mike DeFranco, of the Orange Coounty Health Department.

“It’s really overwhelming when you’re tasked with the care of a facility that houses many residents that have various levels of morbidity and medical needs – then all of a sudden you have this pandemic knocking on the doors all around us,” DeFranco said.

When out on a call, the team does its best to check rooming situations and safety protocols. On an average day, the team sees anywhere from 4 to 11 facilities. And they always follow up with each facility afterwards.

“Let’s say we are there and they raise concerns about symptoms, we would then go ahead and provide the testing,” said Zin Lyons, a strike team leader.

Because education is just as important as preparation, the strike team also provides training on how to properly wear masks while assessing the levels of personal protective equipment (PPE) at local facilities. Since April, the strike team has performed about 100 tests. They said the lack of PPE is a problem.

“We’re working with the administrators of these facilities to conserve,” said James Gusler, who works for Orange County EMS.

The strike team has a main list of facilities they’re currently checking. At this point they’re just making sure to perform wellness checks.

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