Timely intervention and control of a novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak at a large skilled nursing facility-San Francisco, California, 2020

Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2021 Oct;42(10):1173-1180. doi: 10.1017/ice.2020.1375. Epub 2020 Dec 14.


Objective: To describe epidemiologic and genomic characteristics of a severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) outbreak in a large skilled-nursing facility (SNF), and the strategies that controlled transmission.

Design, setting, and participants: This cohort study was conducted during March 22-May 4, 2020, among all staff and residents at a 780-bed SNF in San Francisco, California.

Methods: Contact tracing and symptom screening guided targeted testing of staff and residents; respiratory specimens were also collected through serial point prevalence surveys (PPSs) in units with confirmed cases. Cases were confirmed by real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction testing for SARS-CoV-2, and whole-genome sequencing (WGS) was used to characterize viral isolate lineages and relatedness. Infection prevention and control (IPC) interventions included restricting from work any staff who had close contact with a confirmed case; restricting movement between units; implementing surgical face masking facility-wide; and the use of recommended PPE (ie, isolation gown, gloves, N95 respirator and eye protection) for clinical interactions in units with confirmed cases.

Results: Of 725 staff and residents tested through targeted testing and serial PPSs, 21 (3%) were SARS-CoV-2 positive: 16 (76%) staff and 5 (24%) residents. Fifteen cases (71%) were linked to a single unit. Targeted testing identified 17 cases (81%), and PPSs identified 4 cases (19%). Most cases (71%) were identified before IPC interventions could be implemented. WGS was performed on SARS-CoV-2 isolates from 4 staff and 4 residents: 5 were of Santa Clara County lineage and the 3 others were distinct lineages.

Conclusions: Early implementation of targeted testing, serial PPSs, and multimodal IPC interventions limited SARS-CoV-2 transmission within the SNF.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Humans
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • San Francisco / epidemiology
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities*