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Salisbury VA Community Living Center outbreak now considered over

SALISBURY — State and county health officials on Friday confirmed that the outbreak at the W. G. Hefner VA Community Living Center is now considered over.

State data showed a total of 10 staff members at the community living center had tested positive, with county data indicating only six of the employees were residents of Rowan County.

An outbreak is considered over if there’s no evidence of continued transmission within the facility 28 days after the most recent case.

The state’s updated report of outbreaks at congregate care facilities shows that four staff and 21 residents have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Autumn Care of Salisbury facility. However, the county’s most up-to-date data, published on Thursday, shows three employees and 21 residents belong to Rowan County. The discrepancy could be due to an employee living out of the county.

Also on Friday, county health officials updated the COVID-19 data hub with the most up-to-date positive percent rate, now at 9.43%, as the number of negative tests was 20,659 out of the total 22,810 tests reported. That number is updated weekly. Last week, the rate was 9.37%. The number is slightly higher than the state’s current positive rate of 8%. Across the state, a total of 132,812 people have tested positive after 1.94 million completed tests. A total of 1,123 people have been hospitalized and 2,134 people have died.

Beyond an updated percent positive rate and number of negative tests, county officials did not provide an update on other COVID-19 statistics on Friday as health officials prepare to begin publishing morning updates beginning Saturday. As of Thursday, a total of 2,151 people have tested positive and 339 are currently positive.

COVID-19 data will now be released around 10 a.m. each morning, county spokesperson TJ Brown said. The goal of the new timeframe is to provide a more consistent publishing time. Since the establishment of the data hub, data has been released in the afternoons or evenings of each day with no particular deadline. However, the new update cycle will result in county data falling behind the state’s most up-to-date information by about 24 hours, he said.

A number of readers have contacted the Post about a COVID-19 outbreak on the border of Kannapolis and Concord in Cabarrus County. On Friday, the Brian Center Health and Retirement home in Concord confirmed a total of 32 residents and 27 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19, according to spokesperson Annaliese Impink. Of those, 11 residents and 14 employees have recovered from the virus, while eight people have died.

Impink added that the facility is following state and federal guidelines regarding testing.

Also on Friday, state health officials issued an order that requires biweekly staff testing for nursing homes across the state and more state funding for the tests until November. The state health department is also deploying additional infection control support teams to manage outbreaks at congregate care facilities.

State health officials said that in July, baseline testing of nursing home residents and staff was conducted with an expectation of completing close to 50,000 tests. The secretarial order will require all nursing home staff to be tested every other week in facilities without a confirmed case or outbreak. Existing guidance requires facilities with active cases to be tested weekly.

Another effort to mitigate the pandemic in congregate care facilities includes helping to fill staffing shortages through a partnership with East Carolina University School of Nursing to match registered nurses and certified nursing assistants to facilities in urgent need of assistance. To date, health officials say 5,331 students have been referred.

State health officials also announced on Friday that seven additional vendors that have been selected to hire and manage more than 250 community health workers, who will be deployed in 50 targeted counties to connect people affected by COVID-19 in need of services and support.

The vendor selected for Rowan County is Kepro, a Pennsylvania-based company that will also serve Mecklenburg, Gaston, Cabarrus, Stanly, Montgomery and Union counties.

Medical and social support includes diagnostic testing, primary care, case management, nutrition assistance and behavioral health services.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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