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  • Writer's pictureWilliam Miller, MD

Outbreak at Local Day Care Center

Updated: Jul 20, 2021

During any crisis, even one that stretches on as COVID has, it is important that we remain calm and make decisions based on sound principles. This is exactly what Kristine Hendricks who owns and operates Dandy Lion Cub House did when she heard that the family of one of the children she cares for had several members come down with COVID. The family had some relatives visit from out of the area. This is, of course, what many of us do trying to maintain our relationships with loved ones during this pandemic. When some of the family developed symptoms, they got tested and when the results came back positive for COVID the family acted very responsibly. They called Hendricks to let her know the situation.

Upon hearing the news, Hendricks immediately went into action. She called all of the parents of the children she cared for and let them know. She also called the County Health Department to both let them know and get their guidance on how she should respond. She then voluntarily closed her day care so that it could be thoroughly cleaned. She and her staff also got tested. The staff member who was taking care of the infant from this family tested positive. According to the Mendocino Health Department, who has done thorough contact tracing on the case, a total of six persons have tested positive. Four of these are members of the original family, one is the staff member and one is a family member of a staff member. The Health Department is monitoring 19 others who may have had contact. According to the health department, no other children or families have been infected.

I spoke with Kelsey Rivera, Operations Manager for the Health Department’s COVID response. Rivera praised Hendricks for her response to the situation stating, “She is an example of how we would like all business owners to respond. She acted quickly and thoughtfully and has really been cooperative with all of our efforts to fully investigate and do the necessary contact tracing.” Rivera and I agreed that Hendricks’ quick actions prevented what could have been a more serious outbreak.

Sadly, as we saw several months ago when the traveling nurse tested positive, some of the community members’ response has been less than admirable. Henricks shared with me that she has received threats against her personally. While I am certain that the majority of our community on the Coast are compassionate and caring individuals, such behavior from even a few people is not helpful and makes this already difficult pandemic even more challenging. We all need to come together and support each other during these trying times.

Keeping day cares open is crucial to the success of our economic recovery from this crisis. Without day care, many workers have had to quit their jobs in order to stay home to look after young children. This means even more unemployed persons and struggling businesses as a result of COVID. Hendricks told me that this is the reason she has kept Dandelion Day Care open while other day cares were closing. “I feel that I am doing my part for the community by helping working parents return to their jobs,” she said.

[Miller Report for the Week of October 26, 2020; by William Miller, MD.]

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