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Positive cases surge at Woodhaven Court, Stanly Manor

There has been a recent surge in reported coronavirus cases in nursing homes and residential care facilities in Stanly County, according to data from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

A surge in residents and staff members have tested positive at Stanly Manor, 75 cases, and Woodhaven Court, 72 cases, in Albemarle. These are the two largest outbreaks at long-term care facilities in the county. Six residents have died at Stanly Manor and five have died at Woodhaven Court.

NCDHHS keeps a running tab of ongoing outbreaks at these congregate living facilities, which it updates every Tuesday and Friday. Before the data was updated Tuesday afternoon, Woodhaven had 41 reported cases while Stanly Manor had only four reported cases. An outbreak is defined by the state as two or more laboratory-confirmed cases.

“Congregate living for the elderly is among the most susceptible populations for COVID-19,” said Silke Rible, senior media relations strategist with Atrium Health, which operates Stanly Manor. “Unfortunately, we had a positive case occur at Stanly Manor, which resulted in it spreading to others.

“We continue to make every effort to contain the spread,” Rible added, “and are taking additional precautions to protect residents and staff, including transferring COVID-positive patients out to a nearby facility that has dedicated skilled nursing care space for patients with COVID, to make sure they get the appropriate care in an isolated area and reducing the potential for additional spread.”

“We are continuing to partner with the local health department to monitor and maintain the wellbeing of our community,” said Patricia Bates, Executive Director of Woodhaven Court, in a statement to the SNAP. “We are thankful for the dedicated, heroic care teams we have in place, as well as the support from our families and the greater community as we continue to care for our residents.”

Of the roughly 1,301 cumulative cases that have been documented in the county as of Wednesday, roughly 33 percent (at least 432) have come from congregate living facilities — correctional facilities, nursing homes and residential care facilities.

“Obviously we’re very concerned with the state of our nursing homes and residential care facilities because the residents have an increased risk of severe illness or death due to Covid,” said Stanly County Health and Human Services Director David Jenkins, adding that the health department has been in communication with nursing homes and residential care facilities since March to make sure they have the latest state and federal guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19.

“Our staff has been in contact with these facilities almost daily to ensure their needs are met,” Jenkins said.

He said the department is restricting asymptomatic positive employees from returning to work at the care facilities until they are released from isolation by the department.

“We expect this will help limit any further spread of COVID-19 in these facilities,” Jenkins said.

The largest overall outbreak in the county has occurred at the Albemarle Correctional Institution, where 153 inmates have tested positive for the virus and three have died. An additional 36 staff members have also tested positive according to John Bull, spokesman for the state’s Department of Public Safety. So far, 774 inmates have been tested.

Other facilities that have experienced recent spikes in cases include Trinity Place, with 56 cases and eight deaths, and Forrest Oakes Healthcare Center, with 19 cases and two deaths.

“Weekly testing for residents and staff continues,” said Trinity Place Administrator Stephanie Herrin-Huneycutt. “And we continue to work closely with the local health department and state agencies to keep them up to date on our situation.”

The Division of Health Services Regulation (DHSR) conducted an Infection Control Survey at Trinity Place on Aug. 12, and Trinity Place was “declared deficiency free,” according to a news release on Lutheran Services website, which is the parent company of the residential care facility.

Other facilities that have experienced outbreaks include Stanly County Detention Center (four cases), Bethany Woods (seven cases), Spring Arbor (six cases and three deaths) and two Monarch group homes.

COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, is known to be particularly lethal to older adults and those who have underlying health conditions. And it can spread more easily through congregate facilities where many people live in a confined environment and workers move from room to room.

As of Wednesday, 42 residents had lost their lives to coronavirus-related illness, according to the health department, which is a fivefold increase since a month ago, when less than 10 people had died due to the virus. The death total had remained relatively stable for much of the pandemic, until around mid-July, when it started to spike.

Jenkins said the rising death total is correlated with the rising number of cases.

“The more positives that you have in the community, you’re going to have more deaths associated with COVID as well,” he said.

He added that the best ways to help mitigate the spread of the virus is to wash hands, wear masks and practice social distancing.

There are 12 people hospitalized for COVID-19 illness, 241 active cases and an estimated 1,018 people who have since recovered.

The percentage of tests that have come back positive in Stanly is 12 percent, much higher than the state average of 7 percent.

Statewide, there have been more than 1.9 million tests conducted resulting in 147,932 cases. A total of 1,001 people are hospitalized while 2,431 people have died.

Drive-in COVID-19 testing is available from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the Stanly County Commons. To be eligible for a test, a person must have had contact with someone who tested positive, interacted in a large group or exhibits coronavirus symptoms, according to the health department.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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