The Square
News and perspectives from Covia.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Covia’s Market Day has stepped in to provide fresh produce and staples to almost 1,600 seniors.

Market Day, a Covia Community Services program designed to offer pop-up produce markets in accessible locations such as senior communities, senior centers, and churches, made the difficult decision to temporarily close its events starting in mid-March in light of the risk they might present to seniors and volunteers alike. But the team is working behind the scenes to provide new, creative ways to get fresh produce to seniors without exposing them to risk of infection. 

“Covia knows that our clients, residents, and neighbors are all dealing with a lot of challenges during this pandemic,” Market Day posted on its Facebook page. As a result, “During the month of April, Covia offered produce delivery for free to older adults and community members.”

In April, Covia employees and volunteers wearing masks delivered bags of produce to 1,593 seniors living in twelve locations that normally host Market Day, ranging in location from Santa Rosa in Sonoma County to Pomona in Southern California. Each delivery contained a variety of fresh produce, from blueberries to broccoli, pears to zucchini, along with a pound of rice.

“The gesture alone helped my spirits,” said a resident of Presidio Gate Apartments, a Covia Affordable Community in San Francisco. “The bananas and berries were most appreciated and the sweet potatoes were good mashed.”

“I can’t tell you how much the groceries will be appreciated by my residents,” said a staff person at Cottonwood Place in Fremont. “I’ve seen the need for food increasing. This is so generous of Covia and it is definitely needed…We will get through this all together.”

As for the Market Day team, “We can’t wait to celebrate all our volunteers when our Markets open again soon!”

Market Day is a program of Covia Community Services. Find more information about Market Day or make a donation to support this vital program here.

UPDATE: As of May 31, 2020, all cases of COVID-19 at San Francisco Towers have cleared.


On Wednesday, April 15, Covia was informed that there are two confirmed cases of Coronavirus (or COVID-19) at our San Francisco Towers community. SFT immediately contacted the San Francisco Department of Public Health and is following all of their guidance. In addition to the Infection Control Plan that was already in place, San Francisco Towers immediately implemented a prescribed protocol to respond to these positive cases of COVID-19.

Those affected are a resident in the Skilled Nursing Facility and a nurse who was caring for that resident.

“We have been fortunate so far to not have any cases of COVID-19 in any of our Life Plan communities, but we prepared, expecting this day would come,” says Mary McMullin, Covia’s Chief Strategy and Advancement Officer. “We know that the San Francisco Towers staff is well equipped to respond to this situation.”

The resident, who began experiencing shortness of breath on Tuesday, was tested for COVID-19. The  symptoms increased overnight and the resident was admitted to a San Francisco hospital on Wednesday where the test result came back positive. The nurse was tested due to working at another site with COVID-19 positive cases and the result came back positive. The staff member was not tested in conjunction with working at the Towers. Appropriate protocols are being taken.

The resident’s roommate in the Skilled Nursing Facility was tested and found negative for COVID-19.  

As required by California Department of Public Health protocol, all staff that interacted with the patients in this skilled nursing room will be surveilled and a log will be maintained with frequent checks of their vital signs. Any staff that are symptomatic will be tested for COVID-19.

The community is asking residents to take extra precautions, including remaining in their apartments except for medically necessary purposes. Residents returning back from trips will be quarantined in their rooms for 14 days and monitored for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.

San Francisco Towers has also contracted with an outside vendor who will thoroughly sanitize the entire Skilled Nursing Facility.

“The safety of our community members is of the greatest importance to us,” says San Francisco Towers Executive Director Christina Spence in a letter to residents. “We continue to take all available steps to control the spread of infection, based on the recommendations of the Department of Public Health and our own best practices for infection control and prevention.”

San Francisco Towers is not a Skilled Nursing Facility, but a multi-level Life Plan Community, primarily consisting of independent living apartments. Only 18 of its approximately 300 residents are receiving skilled nursing care. 

We will provide further updates as they become available.

Questions can be emailed to C19info@covia.org.  

Update: April 17, 2020

San Francisco Towers has begun testing all residents in its Skilled Nursing Facility for COVID-19 in the wake of a resident and a nurse testing positive earlier this week (April 15). This testing far exceeds the current guidelines of the San Francisco Department of Public Health for what they consider a “low risk exposure” at the community. The community will also do periodic testing of skilled nursing staff.

“This is a unique process to address SFT’s specific situation and aims to ensure the well-being of our Towers community,” says Executive Director Christina Spence.

SFT purchased the limited available tests from a private provider. The tests will be performed under an umbrella order from SFT’s medical director and results are expected within five days of submissions. Health care for individuals who test positive will follow public health quarantine protocols. SFT is working closely with the San Francisco County Department of Public Health, which, if needed, will direct any future testing.

SFT also continues to implement all current steps to control the spread of infection based on the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the SFDPH and utilization of best practices for infection control and prevention.

Update: April 20, 2020

Results so far from testing Skilled Nursing residents and San Francisco Towers staff have found one additional resident with a positive case of COVID-19. Although largely asymptomatic, the resident is now in the hospital for further testing. The resident’s roommate tested negative for COVID-19.

A few resident and staff results are still pending but complete results will be shared as soon as they become available.

The SFT resident who was diagnosed last Wednesday, April 15th was reported by the hospital to be in critical but stable condition. Covia continues to monitor the resident’s status and to communicate with the person holding Durable Power of Attorney.

In addition, San Francisco Towers has heard from two Independent Living residents who have been traveling since mid-March who contracted – and recovered from – COVID-19. SFT Executive Director Christina Spence writes, “We are under the impression that they were not exposed to the Coronavirus at the Towers, but while they were out of state. We do not believe their illness will have any effect on the Towers community. We are also very happy to hear that they have fully recovered.” 

Update: April 24, 2020

San Francisco Towers reports that one additional staff person has tested positive for COVID-19 and will not be working at the community for at least two weeks. The staff person, who is asymptomatic, had been in self-isolation since Monday, April 20 and was tested as part of surveillance testing provided by the Towers.

The community has received all results for its Skilled Nursing residents with no further positive tests. Executive Director Christina Spence says, “Several residents are in isolation due to positive roommate exposure but have tested negative and have no symptoms.” 

The initial resident found positive remains hospitalized in critical condition. The second resident found positive was in hospital under observation, but has since returned to SFT where isolation precautions are being taken, including team members dedicated to this resident’s care. The first staff person who tested positive is asymptomatic and recovering in self-isolation at home.

Update: April 28, 2020

The resident from San Francisco Towers’ Skilled Nursing Facility who tested positive for COVID-19 on April 15th has passed away. Executive Director Christina Spence informed residents and staff of the news today, saying, “Our thoughts and prayers of peace and comfort go to the friends and family members.”

Currently, there are four active cases of COVID-19 connected to San Francisco Towers: two residents and two staff. 

The former roommate of the resident, who had originally tested negative, returned a positive result late on April 24. This resident, as well as the second resident in the Skilled Nursing Facility who tested positive, are in individual rooms being supported by dedicated staff in the isolation wing and “are doing well.”

The first staff member who tested COVID-19 positive has recovered and is cleared to return for work. The second staff member remains asymptomatic at home. 

A third staff member has tested positive for COVID-19. San Francisco Towers received the results today for a test administered on April 21 as part of the community’s blanket voluntary employee testing. “We are determining whether any residents or other employees might have been exposed. We are also taking steps to ensure that the employee’s colleagues receive the proper testing and take appropriate precautions,” Spence reports. 

San Francisco Towers has enhanced its employee screening process to include the additional symptoms listed by the CDC as potential indicators of COVID-19. Employee temperatures are now tested twice per shift. Employees who are not required to use medical personal protective equipment have been provided with face coverings from their supervisors to wear whenever they are in the Towers. In addition, SFT is providing cloth face coverings for employees to wear when they are off site.

Update: May 8, 2020

Currently, there are two residents and two staff who have active cases of COVID-19.  

Late on Wednesday, May 6, an Independent Living resident in the hospital tested positive for COVID-19. Executive Director Christina Spence says, “We are currently doing trace testing and have told those we know have been in contact with this resident to remain in isolation.” 

One resident previously in isolation after being found positive for COVID-19 has recovered and returned to the Resident Health Center on Thursday, May 7. The second resident who tested positive is reported to be “doing very well.” The community anticipates that this resident will also be cleared and able to leave the isolation unit soon.

Although not all test results have returned, tests for SFT team members have been found negative for COVID-19. Of the three team members who tested positive, one was cleared and has returned to work and the other two are doing well in self-isolation at home.

Update: May 29, 2020

San Francisco Towers has had no new cases of COVID-19 since our last update on May 8. The resident who tested positive on May 6 has recovered and returned to Independent Living. Currently, only one staff person remains in isolation and is expected to be cleared to return to work soon.

Update: June 3, 2020

San Francisco Towers Executive Director Christina Spence writes, “I’m so happy to report that San Francisco Towers has had no new cases of COVID-19 since May 6. All cases have been cleared since May 31.” 

To all of our Covia family,

As you are well aware, the presence of COVID-19 in our country has impacted all of us in ways large and small. Every day, the story seems to shift as another news article or chart or special report appears. Coronavirus at the same time seems at once close and also very far away. It has affected all of our lives, even if we know no one who has become infected.

Through all of the sudden changes, the social distancing, the shelter-in-place orders, I have seen how everyone at Covia has worked together to care for each other. It is a sign of the strength of the communities we have built that things have gone as smoothly as they have in the midst of such uncertainty. It is a sign of the value we place on community that we have been able to provide multiple sources of connection even as we have been required to distance ourselves from one another.

We chose the name Covia as a way to announce that we “come together on the path of life.” I can think of no better place to be on this unexpected path than with all of you.

Thank you for everything you do. Stay safe, stay well, and stay connected.

Kevin

Kevin Gerber
President and CEO

News and updates about Covia’s response to COVID-19 can be found on our website at https://covia.org/covid-19-response-and-resources/

April 13

Covia is pleased to report that there are no additional cases of COVID-19 at Lytton Gardens after the case first reported one month ago. The resident who was initially diagnosed has fully recovered. Thank you to the staff and residents whose efforts and cooperation supported the health of all. 

March 18

There has been a confirmed case of COVID-19 (also called Coronavirus) at Lytton Gardens, Covia’s Affordable Housing Community in Palo Alto, in the Arbors neighborhood. Covia, the owner of Lytton Gardens, was informed of this today, March 18th. 

Since the pandemic started, Covia has been following guidance provided by state, local, and national officials along with long-standing established protocols for infection control.  We continue to take steps to ensure the wellbeing of our residents, staff, and the public.  We have informed the Santa Clara County Department of Public Health and are following all of their recommendations.

Here is what we know:

Last Wednesday, March 11, the resident reported difficulty breathing and went to the hospital which administered a Coronavirus test and instructed the resident to return home and remain in isolation.

On Wednesday, March 18, the resident’s son reported the positive test result to Lytton Gardens’ Housing Administrator who immediately reported the case to the County and began implementing their recommendations. The resident reports that he has not had any other contact with any residents nor has staff been in his apartment for any work orders for the past 7 days.

We continue to take all available steps to control the spread of infection, based on the recommendations of the Department of Public Health and our own best practices for infection control and prevention.  This includes:

As an affordable community, Lytton Gardens provides housing and social support and is not a health care provider.

March 26

Since the initial report of March 18, Lytton Gardens has taken the following actions:

To our knowledge, there have been no other cases of COVID-19 in Lytton Gardens. One other resident tested negative for the virus. Residents have been told to call their health care provider and to keep Lytton Gardens staff informed if they exhibit any symptoms of COVID-19.

Covia will provide further updates as they are available, as well as on our COVID-19 Response webpage

Covia has been carefully monitoring the situation around Covia-19, also called Coronavirus,  since COVID-19 has the potential to be far more dangerous for older adults. We will be providing regular updates on https://covia.org/covid-19-response-and-resources/

As the news about COVID-19 spreads as fast or faster than the virus itself, we wanted to share the steps that Covia is taking to prevent viral infections – not just COVID-19, but the flu, pneumonia, and other diseases.

What Covia is doing:

Covia is experienced in providing infection control. Each Life Plan/Multi-Level Community has a dedicated Infection Preventionist on staff, responsible for developing a community response plan built on best practices and current recommendations. In the current situation, each community is following the local, state and federal health authority guidance on prevention, case definition, surveillance, treatment and facility response related to COVID-19.

All Covia staff are trained regularly on injury and illness prevention. Each year, Covia provides flu shots to staff free of charge or reimburses staff who receive the flu vaccine. Although no vaccine currently exists for COVID-19, Covia is providing staff with additional resources related to preventing the spread of the virus, and taking extra care to ensure that staff stay home when they are sick.

Finally, Covia’s Risk and Clinical team members are in contact with public health officials and provide regular updates and information to leaders throughout the organization. Sources include the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and others.

What you can do:

Here are steps each of us can take now to prevent the spread of Coronavirus or other viral infections, and to respond appropriately in case of an outbreak.

Please take ordinary precautions:

If you are the person who is coughing or sneezing, please note: Many people have reported a mild case of Coronavirus, believing it is only the cold or flu. It is important for the health and safety of others to take even mild upper respiratory infections seriously.

With everyone’s efforts, we can significantly reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19 or other viruses. Thank you for your help and cooperation – and we wish you good health!