Dear Acts Residents and Employees:
Happy 4th of July weekend! As we celebrate our country’s Independence Day on July 4, we are certainly reminded of the importance of independence, freedom and the unity and resiliency of the American people. Traditionally, the July 4th holiday is a time when we gather as families and as a nation to celebrate. We celebrate with picnics, barbeques, trips to the beach, camping, parades, carnivals, baseball games and, of course, fireworks. As we started the year 2020, we didn’t expect that so many of the freedoms we cherished would be temporarily restricted and our Independence Day celebrations would be limited. While the recognition of our country’s Independence Day on July 4 will be far different from our traditional celebrations, COVID-19 cannot stop us from celebrating and honoring those that fought to preserve the principles that our founding fathers believed in – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We look forward to celebrating as an Acts family and, although non-traditional, our communities are prepared to provide appropriate celebrations on campus with proper precautions and protocols in place.
As we all consider our travel and other social plans this weekend, it is especially critical to continue to protect yourself and remain vigilant in guarding against the further spread of COVID-19. While we are all anxious to return to our pre-pandemic practices, traditions, and lifestyles, we have witnessed first-hand how the relaxing of restrictions and adherence to rules and recommendations have led to an increase in the number of reported cases of COVID-19 across our nation.
Unfortunately, these increases are not solely based on increased testing. As restrictions have been lifted in many states, there are those who choose not to wear masks while in public, have resisted proper social distancing, and have participated in large group gatherings. Please continue to avoid these situations. Your personal and collective efforts are working! We are so fortunate that the experience within our Acts communities is the opposite of what we are experiencing as a nation.
Across Acts, our number of positive cases continues to decrease, even with an increase in testing. This is directly correlated to the commitment that all of you have made to protect yourself and each other. We cannot thank you enough for taking the personal responsibility to keep our communities safe and protected. Currently, there are only 5 residents and 39 employees across the entire Acts organization that are COVID-19 positive. These numbers continue to decrease each week, while our testing has increased significantly. To provide some perspective, at the end of May when we were celebrating Memorial Day, our number of active positive cases was 83 residents and 110 employees. At that time, we had completed just over 13,000 tests. As of today, we have administered over 42,000 tests. Nationally, the percentage of positive tests is currently averaging 7% of total tests given. For Acts, our average is less than 1% of test results are positive for COVID-19. These are incredible results, and a direct reflection of your commitment and partnership to provide a safe home for Acts residents and safe working environment for Acts employees. Let’s keep this momentum and favorable trend going!
While there is debate about the importance of continued testing, we continue to rely heavily on our routine testing of residents and employees to guide us and protect us against the spread of COVID19. It is wonderful that our number of positive cases is low, and the testing helps us to identify asymptomatic individuals. Without that knowledge, these individuals would be spreading the virus unknowingly. The majority of residents and employees testing positive have been asymptomatic, reinforcing the necessity to test all and to test routinely. Those residents who have tested positive are well cared for and are monitored closely while under isolation protocols. Employees who have tested positive are also required to self-isolate and will be able to return to work upon testing negative and receiving medical clearance.
As has become our routine, below are some frequently asked questions that have been submitted this week. We do appreciate you submitting these questions and providing us your feedback.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many communities are now in Phase 2?
As of today, there are 18 communities officially in Phase 2, with 6 approved by the clinical task force, pending results of this week’s mass testing.
With many states seeing an increase in cases and many others imposing travel restrictions, will Acts be implementing any new travel limitations?
Given our ability to conduct frequent testing and the favorable results, we are not adding any additional travel restrictions at this time. We continue to encourage you to avoid “hot spots” as identified by the NY Times, and we encourage you to limit travel as much as possible. When traveling, please use all the same precautions that you use while at Acts – wear a mask, practice social distancing and keep your hands clean and sanitized.
Given the significant worsening of the pandemic in our state, is Acts considering going back into “lock down” again? I would think that is something we should be considering given the alarming statistics the last few days.
The increase in cases in some of the areas surrounding our campuses is alarming. Know that we monitor those changes very closely, specifically by zip code. We encourage residents to leave the campus as infrequently as possible and to be very careful when you do leave. Everyone’s best defense is to remain on campus and to shelter in place. To support this, we will continue to provide all residents with as many of your necessities as possible, including grocery and medication deliveries. We also want to support the needs and desires of residents to responsibly leave the campus. Currently, we are not moving any Acts community backwards in our phasing. The mass testing that we are completing has proven that cases are not rising in our communities. We may increase the frequency of the mass testing based on the rise of cases in the general area, to confirm or change our current position.
Can we have our own housekeepers on campus to clean our apartments in Phase 2? They have agreed to be tested weekly and have been cleaning for us for years.
Based on the current Phase 2 protocols, we continue to limit the number of outside contractors on campus. The fewer people on campus, the less opportunity to expose residents and employees. We understand that you may prefer your own housekeepers and we look forward to being able to permit their use in the future when we are able to complete more rapid and frequent testing.
When is Acts going to let us visit our friends at other Acts communities?
Currently in Phase 2 communities, we are only permitting personal visits to residents’ homes of up to 3 people who are family members. However, you can visit friends in other Acts communities utilizing the visitor zones that have been established.
Can we consider very close friends to be family for our 3 visitors?
The intent of providing the initial visitation was to accommodate family visits. We understand that many of us have dear friends we consider family. However, we feel it responsible at this time to limit visitation to family only. We will continue to evaluate the visitor policies and will keep you informed of any future changes.
Can our 3 family visitors walk the grounds and/or access the outside amenities with us to get out of our unit, or do they need to stay in our unit during the visit?
You and your guests may visit outside on campus grounds. We do ask that you maintain a 6 feet separation from others or wear a mask.
Can we expect mass testing once per month?
The frequency of mass testing depends on many factors, including a rise in cases in the surrounding area and/or within the Acts community. As such, our schedule on testing is fluid and we will keep you informed as mass testing at your community is scheduled. For some employees (clinical and others working in OakBridge Terrace and WillowBrooke Court), testing is conducted weekly. In our Florida communities, we just moved all employees to weekly testing given the rise in cases in that state.
When can OBT residents have some of the same freedoms as IL residents?
OakBridge Terrace is regulated much more than independent living and, as such, we are restricted in providing OBT residents the same benefits under our phasing plans as IL residents. As states allow, we are restoring communal dining and activities with the same capacity protocols as independent living. We continue to monitor changes in the regulatory environment and will modify our protocols as quickly and as safely as possible when the regulations allow us to.
Is Acts allowed to have stricter restrictions in place than the government has ordered?
Would this go against resident’s rights?
Acts is not required to solely follow government regulations in our response to this pandemic. These are unprecedented times and Acts, along with government officials, are implementing what is deemed responsible and appropriate to keep all safe and reduce exposures to COVID-19. At Acts we are deeply committed to the promise of providing life-care and supporting residents as their needs change that may require a higher level of care. The actions that we took and the protocols that we implemented served to protect residents and employees as well as guard against a sudden and dramatic increase in the need for skilled care. Recall that in the early stages of this pandemic, hospitals were very concerned about the possible overrun by increased demand as they recognized that they had limited bed capacity, resources, staff and supplies. We strived to ensure that our longterm care beds and resources were not crippled by an unexpected increase in demand. The steps that Acts has taken do not violate any laws or regulations, but rather were implemented largely in response to local, state and federal rules, regulations and strong recommendations.
In Phase 2, can the paper delivery person come back on board to deliver papers early in the morning or must we access the inhouse mailbox to get our morning paper?
We do want to continue to limit the amount and level of exposures, especially as it related to individuals that are not part of our routine testing protocols. At this time, we will continue the practice of having the delivery of papers to the in-house mailbox or have a staff member deliver it to your unit.
When can we have table clothes in the main dining room?
We implemented paper placemats in our dining venues as a more hygienic alternative to tablecloths. The disinfection of eating surfaces is much more effective than the use of tablecloths. We would expect this responsible practice to continue until the pandemic is beyond us.
While the celebration of Independence Day this year may not be traditional, let us remember and covet the freedoms we have as Americans. We are all impacted by this unsettling time in our nation. While we are all different people, let us all join in unison to appreciate, respect and celebrate our differences and to strengthen our nation through understanding, tolerance, peace and love. We are one nation under God. In God We Trust has always been appropriate but perhaps never more meaningful than it is right now. May God guide us and unify us so that all may share and appreciate the gifts He has given to each of us. May our hearts be filled with pride, gratitude and hope.
Happy Independence Day!