For those who question the seriousness of the recent increase of COVID-19 cases, they need to look no further than the rising number of outbreaks and deaths at Piedmont area nursing and retirement homes.
While residents of long term care facilities account for only eight percent of the nation’s cases, they represent 40 percent of its deaths.
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Recent data released by Johns Hopkins University and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services show newly reported COVID cases in the U.S. population rose by 229 percent to 796,761 new cases the week of November 8. New weekly cases in nursing homes grew by more than 110 percent nationwide between mid-September and the week of November 8.
“The evidence seems to support the fact that when you have widespread community infection, you see more infections in congregate living groups, like nursing homes,” said Susan Hayes, director of the Randolph Health Department. “The residents don’t go anywhere; they are dependent on the staff to take care of them. People are asymptomatic, they don’t know they have it and they go to work and expose others.”
According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Randolph County has had 5,489 total cases and 87 deaths since the outbreak began in March, which is 382 cases per 10,000 residents. There have been 790 new cases reported in the past 14 days.
The Dec. 1 congregate living outbreak report released by the NCDHH states, there are six nursing or rehabilitation centers In Randolph County with confirmed cases of COVID-19, but only three reported deaths.
GrayBrier Nursing and Rehab has the most number of reported cases at 118 people. Out of these cases, 62 are residents and 56 are employees. There were no reported deaths at this facility.
Other Randolph County facilities on the report include:
Alpine Health and Rehabilitation of Asheboro reported 68 cases; 38 residents and 30 employees. This facility also reported three deaths due to COVID-19 complications.Clapps Convalescent Nursing Home has 31 reported cases; 14 residents and 17 employees.Crossroad Main Care Unit reported four cases; one resident and three employees.Crossroads Memory Care reported 44 cases; 29 residents and 15 employees.Westwood Health and Rehab has eight cases; three residents and five employees.
As of Tuesday, Davidson County has had a total of 5,426 total confirmed COVID-19 cases and 51 deaths reported since the beginning of the outbreak in March. This is 324 cases per 10,000 residents. There have been 898 new cases reported in the past 14 days.
Janna Walker, public health strategist for the Davidson County Health Department, said the county-wide positivity rate in Davidson County is at 10 percent, which means more and more people who are being tested are being confirmed positive. With the increase in cases comes an increase in the likelihood congregate living residents will be exposed.
Walker said local nursing homes and rehabilitation centers are now required to do a weekly or bi-weekly antigen test to help screen employees, but even outside congregate living situations, we need to be aware of the effect the virus can have on the population in general.
“No one knows how it will impact them,” Walker said. “One person just has a cough and a loss of smell; for the next person, it means being on a ventilator in the hospital. We need to keep that in the forefront of all our minds.”
According to the NCDHH congregate living report, there are six nursing homes or residential care facilities in Davidson County with reported outbreaks of COVID-19 and six reported deaths.
Pine Ridge Health and Rehabilitation Center has the most number of reported cases, with 61 overall cases. Out of these confirmed positive cases, 41 were residents and 20 employees. There are six reported deaths at this facility.
Other Davidson County facilities on the report include:
Abbotts Creek center has three cases, one resident, and two employees.Brookstone Retirement in Lexington had 37 cases; 31 residents and six employees.Lexington Healthcare had 19 cases; 17 residents and two employees.Mount Vista Health Park has 14 cases, all of which are employees.Piedmont Crossing has 11 cases; one resident and ten employees.
“It is widespread in our community,” Walker said. “We should anticipate an even greater uptick in cases due to the Thanksgiving holiday. People gathered regardless of the warning, and we want everyone to be prepared. Wearing a mask, washing hands and social distancing is still the best protection we have for any person of any age,”
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Alamance County has had a total of 7,249 confirmed cases and 97 deaths. There have been 1,052 new cases reported in the past 14 days. This total number of cases is 428 people per 10,000 residents, as of Tuesday.
“Though the nursing home population is among our most vulnerable, most COVID-19 cases came from the general population during November, and only 3 percent of cases were from nursing home facilities,” said Alamance County Health Director Tony Lo Guidice.
According to the Dec. 1 congregate living outbreak report by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, in Alamance County, seven nursing homes have multiple cases and have reported 43 deaths.
Alamance Health Care Center reported the most positive cases with 193 people; 122 residents and 71 employees. This facility also had 13 reported deaths.
Other Alamance County facilities on the report include:
Alamance House has three reported cases all of which are employees.Brookdale Burlington has 27 reported cases; 20 residents and seven employeesCoble Creek has 53 confirmed cases; 30 residents and 23 employees. This facility has reported nine deaths.Peak Resources Alamance has 97 confirmed cases; 65 residents and 32 are employees. The facility has also reported 21 deathsTwin Lakes: Moneta Springs Memory Care reported two cases all of which are employees.White Oak Manor has three cases, all of which are employees.
Hayes said even though we are all weary of all the COVID-19 protocols, it is important during this recent increase in cases to continue to follow the rules and guidelines, especially for the protection of our senior citizens.
“People seem to forget this is not a normal year,” Hayes said. “As long as we have this unprecedented and widespread outbreak, please wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands and stay home if you are sick. It makes me sad that we are losing our loved ones and our citizens.”