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West Virginia nursing home virus outbreak stabilizes

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UNION, W.Va. (AP) — A COVID-19 outbreak that killed five people at a Monroe County nursing home has stabilized, although several residents and staff members are still infected, the Bluefield Daily Telegraph reported on Sunday.

The outbreak began with three positive cases reported on Aug. 18 at the Springfield Center, a skilled-nursing facility in Lindside.

Stonerise Healthcare, the Charleston-based owner of Springfield, began testing all residents and staff the same day. Two days later, the center was reporting 45 active cases among 18 employees and 27 residents. The number of positive cases peaked on Aug. 30 with 67 active cases.

As of Friday, Stonerise CEO Larry Pack said the number of positive cases at the facility had dropped to 30 among 17 residents and 13 staff. Three people remain hospitalized.

“We are significantly down from the peak of the outbreak,” Pack said. “We are very thankful.”

How the virus got into the center in the first place remains a mystery as does its rapid spread. Long-term care facilities were like the Springfield Center were on alert from the beginning of the pandemic because of their vulnerable residents, and took many extra precautions.

“We are very proud of our infection control process,” Pack said. It’s difficult to see us doing more than what we are already doing.”

Once officials were aware of the positive cases, they immediately sought the help of state and local agencies that included the Monroe County Health Department.

“Everything and everybody” were in place to take action quickly, Health Department CEO Jim Nelson said. But the two-day delay between testing and getting results hampered the process, especially because many people who were positive showed no symptoms.

“Once we realized the employees had it as well, we are in the middle of, ‘Who have you been in contact with’?” he said. In addition to contact tracing, the county set up mass testing events for the whole community.

Nelson said that although cases are declining at the nursing home, the threat to the community remains.

“I don’t think we are out of the woods yet,” Nelson said.

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