Memo shows 20 more positive COVID-19 cases at The Citadel

Published 12:08 pm Wednesday, April 15, 2020

By Shavonne Potts

SALISBURY — Rowan County health officials confirmed Wednesday morning that 106 people have tested positive for COVID-19 across two local nursing homes, with the majority from The Citadel, on Julian Road.

On Tuesday night, Accordius Health, which operates the Citadel, said in a statement there were over 75 known positive cases. The management company for the N.C. State Veterans Home, located on the campus of the Hefner VA Medical Center, confirmed Monday the facility had seven patients who tested positive for COVID-19. And an internal memo obtained by the Post shows at least 20 more cases at the Citadel about which the company hasn’t told the public.

The Citadel is the same site Rowan County health officials confirmed last week was one of two congregate living facilities in the county that had an outbreak — two or more cases. Accordius Health told the Post at the time it only had one resident who tested positive.

The memo from Accordius Health provided to employees and dated Tuesday said the facility received lab results on a large batch of COVID-19 tests collected on Friday. The memo went on to confirm that 96 of those tests were positive for COVID-19, 17 were negative and seven were not tested.

The two-page memo is titled “COVID-19 Management Plan: Citadel Salisbury.” It does not specify whether staff cases are among the 96 positives.

The memo details a resident care strategy, which included treating all residents as positive, with the exception of those who tested negative. The memo also says all residents will be cared for using “enhanced droplet precautions” — gowns, gloves, face shields or goggles, N-95 respirators and shoe covers as soon as available.

N-95 masks weren’t provided until last week, said employees who spoke to the Post on the condition of anonymity. Employees also described limitations on how much personal protective equipment each staff member would be issued because of availability.

Staff would receive one gown per day, a reusable shield, five N-95 masks to be rotated daily, shoe covers each day and gloves for each use.

“We are following their recommendations and continue to adhere to appropriate, strict precautions and preventative measures against infection,” an Accordius Health spokesperson said on Tuesday.

But a number of employees who have spoken to the Post say the situation has not addressed sufficiently by Accordius Health and that staff have left because of conditions in the facility.

On Wednesday, Rowan County added an eighth person to the number of people who have died from COVID-19. No further details were provided about that person.

The number of those individuals hospitalized also increased, bringing the total to 19. There are currently 216 people in Rowan County who have tested positive for COVID-19.

There have been 1,669 tests submitted, with 1,453 being negative. Officials say 51 people have recovered. More women, 113, than men, 103, have tested positive for the virus.

Of the 216 people who tested positive, the racial makeup is 125 white, 54 African-American, 20 unknown, 13 white/Hispanic, two listed as “other” and two Asian.

Statewide, 67,827 have been tested. Of those, 5,123 have been found positive for COVID-19, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. The agency reported 117 have died and 431 are currently hospitalized. There are currently 93 counties reporting data to the state agency.

The state agency releases its data in the morning hours. Local officials release data in the afternoon. Rowan County’s most up-to-date data is available via its COVID-19 dashboard that includes a map of areas with positive cases, racial makeup of individuals who’ve tested positive and other data found at