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Nursing home COVID-19 deaths continue rising with three more reported Thursday

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — The county on Thursday reported three additional COVID-19 deaths at the N.C. State Veterans Home, amounting to 10 deaths reported in three days.

Of the three deaths, one occurred Wednesday, one earlier this week and another last week, said County spokesperson TJ Brown.

A total of 37 individuals have now died from COVID-19 in the county, with 20 from the Citadel, 15 at the N.C. State Veterans Home — located on the campus of W.G. “Bill” Hefner VA Medical Center — and two have not been associated with a congregate living facility. The average age of the deaths is 83.

Additionally, the total number of positive cases at congregate care facilities in the county increased by one on Thursday, bringing the total to 204 cases after an additional veteran tested positive. A total of seven employees have tested positive at the veterans home along with 36 positive veterans.

In an emailed statement, PruittHealth, the company that manages the N.C. State Veterans Home, provided a link to its COVID-19 info and stated the facility was currently in “Alert Code Red,” which prohibits visitors and nonessential personnel from entering the location. The company added that the Salisbury location “has been strictly following enhanced infection control protocols,” which includes increased cleaning frequency, screening staff and postponing communal activities.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of these veterans,” the company stated in an email. “We offer our sincerest condolences to the veterans’ families and loved ones during this difficult time.”

The company added that it asks the community for prayers for the veterans’ loved ones, but declined to share additional details “out of respect for them and the veterans’ privacy.” It did not answer specific questions asked by the Post.

Both Brown and county public health director Nina Oliver said on Wednesday that the veterans home has delayed reporting the deaths to the county. Brown added that county health officials have reached out to the facility to clarify that the veterans home is responsible for reporting to the county the deaths from its facility.
A total of 620 individuals have tested positive for COVID-19 in Rowan County, with 226 currently positive and 357 recoveries. The number of currently positive cases decreased by five on Thursday, and the recoveries increased by 10.
A total of 3,453 tests have been reported, which is an increase of 62 since Wednesday. Of the total positive cases, nine are being hospitalized.
Statewide, a total of 25,412 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed after 375,192 completed tests. A total of 827 individuals have died, and 708 are currently being hospitalized across the state.
In other COVID-19 statistics:
  • The average age for positive individuals is 50.9. Individuals age 65 and older make up the plurality of cases, at 184, and the 51-64 age group is at 107 cases. However, ages 36-50 and 18-35 continue to climb — at 148 and 156 cases, respectively. A total of 25 cases are among children younger than 18 years old.
  • Of the positive cases, 369 individuals are white, 126 are black or African American, three are Asian, one is American Indian/Alaskan Native, 141 are Hispanic, 87 are unknown and 34 are other.
  • Females still make up the majority of positive cases, at 318, while males represent 302 of the positive cases.
  • Zip code 28147, which is where the Citadel nursing home is located, remains the area of the county with the most positive cases, at 267. Next is 28144, a Salisbury zip code, with 172 cases. Zip code 28146, which includes part of Salisbury and a large swath of eastern Rowan, currently has 66 positive cases.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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