BILLINGS, Mont. — An assisted living facility in Billings, Montana, was offered free, voluntary surveillance coronavirus testing for residents and staff by the state of Montana in June but declined, health officials say.
Now, almost all of the residents and some staff at Canyon Creek Memory Care have COVID-19, and eight residents have died of the disease, according to officials.
On June 30, one resident of Canyon Creek began to show symptoms of COVID-19, Chase Salyers, a spokesman for Koelsch Senior Communities, the company that runs the facility, told CNN.
After that person’s test came back positive, the facility tested everyone on July 3, Salyers explained.
Those tests revealed that of the 59 Canyon Creek residents and 55 staff who were tested, 43 residents and 15 staff were positive for COVID-19, the company said last week.
That number has since grown. At least 55 residents and 36 staff members have now tested positive, Pat Zellar, a spokeswoman for RiverStone Health, Yellowstone County’s public health department, told CNN.
As of Tuesday, eight residents have died from the disease, Zellar said. Two of those deaths have occurred since Sunday.
The facility was offered free tests by the state of Montana on June 16, Salyers confirmed.
However, Salyers said the state’s testing program “would not actually have tested all residents, but a limited sampling of individuals within the community.”
“Moreover, since the beginning of the outbreak, residents in our community were already being tested, and all of those test results were negative,” Salyers added.
“Any of our residents who displayed symptoms since the outbreak started were being promptly referred for testing,” Salyers said.
The state of Montana has reported only 34 deaths due to COVID-19 to date, according to state data. Yellowstone County accounts for 13 of those deaths, according to a RiverStone news release.
The eight deaths at Canyon Creek make up almost 25% of the state’s death toll and more than 60% of the county death toll.
Koelsch Senior Communities runs more than 35 facilities in eight states across the country, according to its website.