UPDATED: One nursing home outbreak considered over; COVID-19 case count continues rising

Published 8:34 pm Friday, May 29, 2020

By Natalie Anderson

SALISBURY — While case numbers continued rising across the county, one local COVID-19 nursing home outbreak was considered over Friday.

There were 10 new COVID-19 cases reported Friday and an additional nine reported Saturday. Meanwhile, an outbreak at the Laurels, which has just fit the definition of an outbreak, was closed.

A total of 639 individuals have tested positive for COVID-19 in the county, with 238 currently positive. The total number of tests reported to the county is 3,617. An additional seven recoveries were reported on Friday, bringing the recovery total to 364. None were reported Saturday. Nine people are being hospitalized.

While no deaths were reported Friday or Saturday, a total of 10 deaths were reported last week. Of the 37 deaths, 20 are from the Citadel, 15 are from 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.

County spokesperson TJ Brown said the county worked with the state on Friday to validate COVID-19 data, which resulted in an increase in the total number of congregate care facility cases to 210 after it was discovered that six additional positive employees at the Citadel were residents of Rowan County. Those cases were included in the overall positive count but not originally linked to the Citadel employee count on the data hub.

The validation also discovered 14 additional Citadel employees have tested positive for COVID-19, but those employees aren’t residents of the county. The total number of positive employees at the Citadel, who live in Rowan County, is now 40, along with 112 residents.

Brown also clarified how deaths are supposed to be reported to the county from the veterans home in particular. The veterans home delayed its reporting of the eight deaths made public this week, but Brown said it could be the result of miscommunication between the veterans home and  physicians at Novant Health Rowan Medical Center who tended to veterans. Veterans can be treated on the Salisbury VA or at Novant. But physicians, whether on or off the campus, are required to report COVID-19 deaths to the county.

County officials have since asked the veterans home to also report within 24 hours any deaths of which they’re aware.

State data on nursing home outbreaks is updated every Tuesday and Friday. Brown said the state and county have “closed out” cases at the Laurels, which had just two active cases. Only one who lived in Rowan County.

Statewide, a total of 27,673 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed after 404,157 completed tests. A total of 638 are currently being hospitalized, and 877 have died across the state.

In addition to protective equipment distributed from the state this month, some local locations anticipate receiving additional items from FEMA by June 15, including Brightmoor Nursing Center, located on West Fisher Street; Abbotts Creek Center in Lexington; Big Elm Retirement and Nursing Centers in Kannapolis; and Compass Healthcare and Rehab Rowan, LLC, in Spencer.

FEMA stated in a news release that it will distribute a total of 608,000 pieces of eye protection, 6.9 million masks, 6.4 million gowns and 31.4 million pairs of gloves to 15,000 nursing homes across the U.S.

In other COVID-19 statistics:

  • The average age for positive individuals is 50.5. Individuals age 65 and older make up the plurality of cases, at 184, and the 51-64 age group is at 112 cases. However, ages 36-50 and 18-35 continue to climb — at 154 and 163 cases, respectively. A total of 26 cases are among children younger than 18 years old.
  • Of the positive cases, 385 individuals are white, 126 are black or African American, three are Asian, one is American Indian/Alaskan Native, 147 are Hispanic, 88 are unknown and 36 are other.
  • Females still make up the majority of positive cases, at 328, while males represent 311 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 274. Next is 28144, a Salisbury zip code, with 175 cases. Zip code 28146, which includes part of Salisbury and a large swath of eastern Rowan, currently has 68 positive cases.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

About Natalie Anderson

Natalie Anderson covers the city of Salisbury, politics and more for the Salisbury Post. She joined the staff in January 2020 after graduating from Louisiana State University, where she was editor of The Reveille newspaper. Email her at natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com or call her at 704-797-4246.

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