Laurels: Nursing home data give better picture of COVID-19

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 30, 2020

Laurel to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, which released much more detailed data on nursing home outbreaks across the state this week. The data showed more clearly than ever before where nursing homes are being hardest hit by the virus.

What’s more, the data also proved nursing home outbreaks are not a rarity in the state. More than a quarter of the counties in the state have a nursing home outbreak — many, including Rowan, have more than one. The number rises even higher once other kinds of congregate living facilities are included.

The data has also shown how the virus has spread at different nursing homes. At the Citadel, for example, almost all residents were tested (some refused) and staff members were, too. Many were not symptomatic but tested positive, Citadel staff told the Salisbury Post Wednesday. While it’s a smaller facility, there are fewer confirmed cases at the N.C. State Veterans Home. And the number of positives is not a majority of residents, according to state data.

It will be tricky to get a full count because of the combination of private and public labs, but the next bit of data released should be total tests conducted in every county.

Laurel to Pat “Mother Blues” Cohen, who is using her voice to spread kindness.

Cohen is a well-traveled blues singer who made Salisbury her home after being displaced by Hurricane Katrina. And she made a greenspace outside of the Citadel nursing home her latest performance venue.  She serenaded her brother, who is a resident at the facility and anyone else who wanted to listen.

“I may not have cash money,” Cohen told reporter Liz Moomey. “My voice is my currency. So, I give what I have.”

This week’s performance was the continuation of a long trend of singing in local nursing homes rather than a new idea, but Cohen deserves credit just the same for doing her part to brighten the days of those affected by COVID-19, which has resulted in an outbreak at the Citadel.

Laurel to the statement by Rep. Julia Howard in Tuesday’s Salisbury Post that Gov. Roy Cooper is in a tough position in deciding when to reopen the state.

“If you do, you’ll be damned and you don’t you’ll be damned … It’s a very, very tough place to be in,” Howard said.

Cooper must work to reopen the state, at least partially, or face a further economic decline in the state and, eventually, a larger share of North Carolinians who are upset. But he must also listen to the advice of public health experts.

Decisions should be primarily grounded in public health, but they cannot ignore the fact that a too-slow reopening won’t leave much of an economy to come back to if closures continue into the fall.