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One dead, 21 infected in latest outbreak

South Boston News / May 13, 2020

A COVID-19 outbreak at Chase City Health and Rehab long-term care center has claimed one life and left 21 persons infected with the disease, the nursing home has confirmed.

Jennifer Eddy, a spokesperson for Chase City Health and Rehab, said of the positive test results at the facility, 16 involve residents and five come from staff members. One resident who tested positive for the virus has died.

The Chase City nursing home is the site of the fourth reported outbreak in the Southside Health District, which spans Halifax, Mecklenburg and Brunswick counties. Three of the four outbreaks — defined by the Virginia Health Department as sites where two or more people test positive for COVID-19 outside of a family setting — are located at long-term care facilities.

In April, at least 34 individuals, both residents and employees, were infected with the virus at Sentara MeadowView Terrace nursing home in Clarksville. An unknown number of deaths tied to COVID-19 have since occurred at the Clarksville facility. Sentara officials have declined to provide information on the number of persons infected or who have died there.

The third nursing home outbreak in the district has not been identified. A fourth outbreak is tied to a health care setting which has not been identified. No deaths have resulted there, according to the health department.

At Chase City Health and Rehab, residents who have tested positive for the virus are being treated in a contained care unit inside the facility, and staff who tested positive are required to quarantine at home, Eddy said.

Eddy said administration and staff at the Chase City facility have implemented new protocols to guard against further spread of the virus. These steps are in addition to measures that Chase City Health and Rehab implemented in mid-March — which included limited visitation, increased frequency of cleaning with special attention on high touch areas, and asking residents to remain in their rooms.

The new protocols call for the staff to wear full PPE (personal protective equipment.) Additionally, every employee is screened “at both the beginning and the end of each shift. This effort includes both a temperature check and a questionnaire that helps us identify any known symptoms and other indications of COVID-19 illness that may be present,” said Eddy.

Other measures being taken at the facility include using the fire doors between the three wings to subdivide the facility, securing the services of a dedicated in-house doctor, and when necessary, deploying telemedicine technology to leverage additional specialized support.

Inside the COVID-19 care unit, the staff is using disposable dishware and shoe sanitation stations are provided for care providers to use, Eddy said.

Eddy said the facility is also working with members of the Southside Health District on next steps. “We are having daily conversations with the local health department and working in full coordination with them to determine when and where we should deploy formal testing.”

The death at Chase City Health and Rehab was not reported Tuesday by the Virginia Health Department in its daily tracking of COVID-19’s spread throughout the state. VDH continues to report 10 deaths in Mecklenburg from the virus, a number that has not changed since Thursday. Health officials have acknowledged the online updates can lag new cases by several days.

As of Tuesday, the health department was reporting 138 positive tests for the coronavirus in Mecklenburg County, the hardest-hit area of Southside Virginia. All 10 deaths in the local health district have occurred in Mecklenburg. The county also has 23 persons who have been hospitalized for treatment.

In Brunswick County, the caseload stood at 20 people on Tuesday, with four hospitalized. Halifax County has 24 diagnosed cases, with two persons hospitalized.

According to VDH, of the 182 cases of COVID-19 in the Southside Health District, 99 are associated with outbreak sites. In Tuesday’s reporting, VDH pegged the number of infected health care workers at 52.

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