Outbreak impact easing at Northeast Tennessee long term care facilities

Local Coronavirus Coverage

After reaching a high of 61 percent of total COVID deaths in Northeast Tennessee Sept. 4, long-term care associated deaths have dropped to 55 percent of the total.

Southwest Virginia outbreaks still on upswing

(WJHL) – After weeks of steadily increasing cases and deaths, Northeast Tennessee long term care facilities had a much better week Sept. 18-25. Only three deaths and 38 new resident cases were reported — a sign the worst of a spate of facility outbreaks that began in July may be easing.

Southwest Virginia, conversely, ended the week with a new outbreak at one facility that had resulted in at least 6 deaths and case increases at another that gave it the highest number of cases statewide among outbreaks in progress.

Agape in Johnson City sole Northeast Tennessee site with more than 3 new cases

Only Agape Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Johnson City suffered more than a few new cases last week. An outbreak first reported Sept. 11 had zero resident cases as of Sept. 18’s weekly report, but 23 cases and one death were reported Friday.

New COVID cases increased sharply the weeks ending Aug. 28 and Sept. 4 but the rate of increase has slowed significantly since.

The death of an Agape resident was one of only three associated with outbreaks at Northeast Tennessee long term care facilities according to weekly data provided by the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH).

Another of those three deaths was at the only facility newly reporting an outbreak — Asbury Place in Kingsport, which reported two resident cases, one death and one staff case.

A total of 88 residents have now died since mid-July in outbreaks affecting 27 facilities — and 635 residents have tested positive, along with 438 staff members.

Those figures are up by just 38 new resident cases since last Friday and 16 new staff cases. New resident cases rose by nearly 100 per week the weeks ending Aug. 28 and Sept. 4 and by 61 the following week.

They have increased by just 56 over the past two weeks combined.

New staff cases rose by an average of more than 50 each week in the three weeks to Sept. 11 but have increased by just 38 combined in the two weeks since.

Resident deaths increased by an average of 13 weekly from the week ending Aug. 28 to the week ending Sept. 18.

Resident recoveries totaled 468 on Sept. 18, leaving just 44 residents with their cases not resolved. Friday’s report, though, doesn’t include the “residents recovered” data point.

News Channel 11 reached out to TDH to learn whether that’s being removed permanently and if so, why it is.

Smyth County cases continue rising; new Abingdon outbreak sees six deaths

Friday, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) website reported an outbreak in Abingdon about which it was first notified Sept. 10 had seen six resident deaths.

Accordius Health in Abingdon had reached 60 reported total cases as of Friday. Virginia’s site does not provide separate figures for staff and resident cases, and doesn’t provide specific numbers unless cases or deaths exceed five.

Outbreaks at Rehab and Memory Care in Bristol and Valley Health Care in Chilhowie both have registered deaths, but no specific number is yet reported.

Breanne Forbes-Hubbard with the Mount Rogers Health District said Friday that positive results are reported to the local health department by the facilities. Sometimes the point of care (hospital) or lab will also report results into VEDSS, the state’s electronic disease surveillance system.

It’s from VEDSS that the state then moves data into its public website.

As of Friday, Valley Health Care had reached 113 cases, the highest total of any active outbreak statewide. Rehab and Memory Care was at 79. Both those facilities have had deaths.

The total number of cases doesn’t mean that many people remain in each facility positive. For instance, Jason Lindsey of Valley Health Care said 20 residents remained positive and in the center Thursday.

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