9/17/20: NAGS HEAD NURSING FACILITY CONFIRMS COVID-19 OUTBREAK; DCDHHS REPORTS BREACH IN QUARANTINE.

Peak Resources of Nags Head has confirmed an outbreak of COVID-19 involving two residents and two staff members of the skilled nursing facility, according to a special report today by the Dare County Dept. of Health and Human Services.

An outbreak of COVID-19 in a long-term care facility is defined by the State of North Carolina as two or more laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 within 28 days, according to the DCDHHS, which said it received notification of the first positive-COVID-19 test result by a Peak Resources resident on Sunday, Sept. 13. 

That day, the DCDHHS dashboard reported that two Dare County residents age 65 or older had been diagnosed with COVID-19, a man who had been hospitalized and a woman who was in home isolation.

The DCDHHS reported seven new COVID-19 cases on Sunday—during a weekend that The Beacon characterized as experiencing a spike in cases. (See The Beacon, 9/14/20.) The other five cases involved three local residents and two nonresidents, four of them under the age of 50.

New residents to N.C. long-term care facilities are required to be in quarantine for 14 days from the date of their admission, pursuant to N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services requirements, according to the DCDHHS’s report. It was during the recent quarantine of a new resident that two Peak Resources residents and two staff members “tested positive for the virus,” the report states.

Despite this breach of quarantine, the DCDHHS says that “Peak Resources has been strictly following all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and N.C. DHSS guidelines, which [have] included biweekly testing of all staff members since early August. As part of the biweekly testing plan, all Peak Resources staff members were tested on Sept. 8, 2020, and all were negative.”

After Sunday’s positive-test result, all Peak Resources residents and staff were tested on Monday and Tuesday, according to the DCDHHS, with the result being that, so far, two staff members have tested positive and all 72 residents have tested negative. Results of 11 of the 70 staff members’ tests for COVID-19 are still outstanding.

The two staff members who tested positive are likely to be the two Dare County COVID-19 cases reported by the DCDHHS dashboard yesterday: They are a woman age 25 to 49 and a woman age 50 to 64.  

On Tuesday, the dashboard reported that a Dare County man between the ages of 25 and 49 had tested positive for COVID-19; and on Monday, the dashboard reported positive test results for a local man between the ages of 25 and 49 and a resident male youth age 17 or younger.

“Positive COVID-19 cases in a long-term care facility understandably create concern for residents, staff, and family members,” said Dr. Sheila Davies, director of the DCDHHS, in a statement.

“We are working very close[ly] with the leadership at Peak Resources to support their efforts in mitigating the spread of COVID-19.”

According to the DCDHHS’s report, Melissa Harrison, the local administrator at Peak Resources, said that the facility has been “closely following the guidelines established by the CDC, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services, and the Division of Public Health” since late January.

In her COVID-19 update Tuesday, Dr. Davies stressed the importance of quarantining as an infection-prevention measure and urged people to respect a quarantine for the full 14-day period. (See The Beacon, 9/15/20.)

Dr. Davies’s update cautioned that violating a quarantine order can result in a misdemeanor charge, the conviction of which carries a penalty of up to two years’ imprisonment.

While enforcement of such a misdemeanor can be difficult, she noted then, it becomes less so when the violation occurs in a skilled nursing facility where the residents and staff are supervised.

For more information about COVID-19 at Peak Resources, the DCDHHS refers you to  www.peakresourcesinc.com and advises that you may obtain current information by selecting “COVID” in the black menu bar at the top of the page. When we did this today, we found no disclosures by Peak Resources of the outbreak.

There currently are 13 active COVID-19 cases among Dare County residents, according to the DCDHHS dashboard: 10 of them are in home isolation; two are in isolation outside of Dare; and one is hospitalized outside of the area.

ON THE STATE LEVEL

Daily new COVID-19 case reports at the state level continue to fluctuate this month—with a high of 2,111 being recorded Sept. 1 and a low of 716 on Sept. 8—according to NCDHHS dashboard numbers. Today’s 1,552 new cases are the most reported since Sept. 5. Total new cases yesterday were 1,137.

The number of daily hospitalizations statewide have tended to stabilize, generally ranging between 800 and 950. The NCDHHS dashboard reported 894 hospitalizations today.

As of today, 3,180 people in North Carolina have died because of COVID-19.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 9/17/20

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