Health official encourages vigilance after local nursing homes report COVID-19 cases

Local Coronavirus Coverage

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Although COVID-19 cases seem to be on the decline for the Northeast Tennessee region, the threat of the virus is still very present.

For the more vulnerable, such as the elderly population, there are growing worries after five area nursing homes recently announced they’ve seen positive cases in their facilities.

Out of an abundance of caution, Care Centers Managing Consulting Inc. tested all of its staff and patients across the six facilities they oversee. In total, 1,294 people were tested which breaks down to 638 residents and 656 employees.

Positive tests popped up at every facility with the exception of the Christian Care Center in Unicoi, which saw no positive cases.

The six facilities include the Christian Care Center in Unicoi County, Cornerstone Village Health CareAgape Nursing and Rehabilitation CenterIvy Hall Nursing HomeDurham-Hensley Health and Rehabilitation and Christian Care Center of Bristol.

Ivy Hall had one positive case from an asymptomatic resident who is being re-tested, and three positive cases from employees who are currently on leave and self-isolating.

Agape had two residents test positive who also were not exhibiting symptoms, and Christian Care in Bristol had one person test positive.

Following the notification of these results, staff immediately informed residents, their families, and the public and ensured they are doing everything they can to keep residents and staff safe and healthy because exposure to this virus can be extra harmful to this population.

“Because of their co-morbidities, they’re at increased risk for death and complications and having to go onto a ventilator,” said Dr. Andrew May, Regional Medical Director at Sullivan Co. Regional Health Department.

Even though the facilities were able to identify positive cases throughout their facilities, Dr. May said that doesn’t necessarily mean the rest of the population is at risk, but it also doesn’t mean they’re out of the woods.

“You have to realize that other people can become infected tomorrow, the next day, or the day after that. Also, there’s the problem with false positives and with false negatives so it’s important that we understand the limitations to universal testing,” said Dr. May.

We reached out to these impacted nursing facilities for comment but all of them decided to decline on-camera comments and issued similar written statements.

While we have seen a recent decline in cases, Dr. May says it’s not over yet. 

“This is a time when we see things starting to relax a little bit but we must remain extra vigilant of our seniors and those at most risk,” he said. 

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