Weekly update: 25 new long-term care deaths in Northeast Tennessee


New resident cases, new deaths continue at high levels

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — New nursing home resident cases resumed a steep climb in Northeast Tennessee this week, as more than 100 new cases were reported for the third time in the past five weeks. The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) updates long-term care outbreak data each Friday.

With 13 deaths reported at Kingsport’s Wexford House and another 11 at Viviant Health Care of Bristol (formerly Cambridge House), the region saw its second-highest one-week COVID-19 death total with 25.

Meanwhile, two facilities that had completely recovered from earlier outbreaks saw their resident cases rise considerably in recently reported new outbreaks.

The region accounts for 7.5% of Tennessee’s population but 13.9% of long-term care resident COVID-19 deaths.

Greystone in Blountville, which had 44 resident cases and one death in its first outbreak, had 15 new resident cases in its current outbreak to reach 16.

Christian Care Center of Bristol, which suffered 11 deaths and 73 resident cases in an outbreak that was deemed closed Oct. 2, had a second outbreak start Nov. 2. It had stayed at two resident cases each week until Friday, when the number jumped to 23.

The report brings the region to the brink of 200 long-term care COVID deaths as the total has reached 193. That is 42% of the seven-county region’s total of 456 deaths — a figure roughly in line with the 40% national share of long-term care deaths.

Even though deaths lag cases and the ultimate percentage will probably be higher, at this point 14.7% of the residents who contract COVID-19 — more than one in seven — are dying from it.

Wexford House, like a number of other facilities, had its resident positive cases stay at a fairly low level for weeks and then begin to spike. The facility had 17 resident cases and one death for many weeks, but on Nov. 20 the resident cases jumped to 56.

In the two weeks since then, the 174-bed facility reported 11 new resident cases Nov. 27, and 34 new resident cases and 13 deaths Friday. Wexford House has now reported the second-highest number of resident cases — 101 — in the region, and the third-highest total of staff cases at 59.

The 106 new resident cases reported Friday make it almost certain that a significant number of new deaths will again be reported over the next week or two.

In addition to Wexford House’s 34 new cases, locations hardest-hit by new cases were Four Oaks of Jonesborough, which jumped by 28 from four to 32, and Greystone and Christian Care of Bristol, up 15 and 21.

Including both residents and staff, Northeast Tennessee now has 2,194 COVID cases linked to long-term care facilities: 1,312 resident cases and 882 staff cases.

The region accounts for 7.5% of the state’s population, but it has recorded 12% of long-term care resident COVID cases, 9.7% of staff cases and 13.9% of resident deaths.

Out of 40 outbreaks that have resulted in 10 or more deaths, 10 of them, or 25%, have been in Northeast Tennessee, with NHC-Johnson City’s 26 deaths the second-highest total in the state.

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