COVID-19 UPDATE | JULY 21, 2020

July 21, 2020

Friends and Family of Santa Marta,

Like many jurisdictions around the country, Johnson County continues to experience a steep increase in cases. There are currently more than 3,800 confirmed cases in our county alone, approximately 600 more than this time last week.

All of us at Santa Marta continue to take every precaution to keep this virus at bay and limit its ability to infiltrate those who live and work here. We’re grateful these efforts so far have resulted in no confirmed resident cases of COVID-19.

Unfortunately, through our latest round of biweekly testing for healthcare staff, we identified one COVID-positive team member. This individual is part of our health services dining team, and last worked a short shift on July 16.

We’ve already identified a small group of colleagues through contact tracing who are at possible risk of exposure. They’re quarantined at their respective homes and will be tested. While the team member did deliver some meals to residents during their last shift, the transmission risk is very low given the team member wore all proper PPE and the brevity of exchanges.

This means we currently have three active team member cases. We’re hopeful two of these team members will be added to our list of recovered shortly. As a reminder, two consecutive negative tests in 72 hours must be achieved to be considered recovered. If one of the tests returns positive, the process must be repeated.

An unfortunate and frustrating consequence of this new case is our outdoor visitation plan for residents in our health center must be delayed at least 14 days. This means all health center visits, including outdoor visits, remain strictly prohibited.

I know this is incredibly disheartening, but the good news is our proposal has been submitted and reviewed by the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment. We’ll soon share our policy with families and loved ones so we can hit the ground running when responsible to do so.

We’re fully aware just how important social opportunities are for the mental and emotional health of residents – particularly now during an extended period of isolation and limited engagement. We’re incredibly pleased how well our structured visitations for independent living residents have been, and the reception of reopened services such as the community pool.

Today, we welcome our fabulous beauticians back in assisted living and memory care. This is a return of a highly anticipated service, and we’re eager to see the impact this will have on residents’ self-esteem.

Our team constantly evaluates areas we may be able to gradually and safely reintroduce to residents. On the horizon, we hope to explore opportunities such as dining reservations for pairs of independent living residents. More work needs to be done, but we should have further information to share in weeks ahead.

As always, thank you for your ongoing vigilance, compassion and unwavering support of our beloved community. I encourage all of us, inside and outside Santa Marta, to do everything we can to slow this surge – wear masks, keep your distance from others, and wash your hands frequently.

Please direct any questions or inquiries to

Stay safe, and God bless.

Chet Surmaczewicz

Executive Director