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Two more die from Essex Center outbreak

ELIZABETHTOWN — Two more residents of the Essex Center nursing home and rehabilitation facility have died after contracting COVID-19.

Altogether, 13 people connected to the COVID-19 outbreak at Essex Center have died since the facility saw its first confirmed cases of the illness on Aug. 17, according to the Essex County Health Department. Of those, 12 people lived in Essex County and one in Clinton County.

Four residents of the nursing home are hospitalized, according to the county Health Department.

The outbreak at Essex Center was first discovered when a series of events unfolded in quick succession, all on Aug. 17. On that day, the nursing home received positive test results for three of its employees. Those employees were tested as part of the facility’s state-mandated weekly testing regime, but these tests had been administered on July 28 and July 29 — the positive results took upward of 19 days to get back. In the meantime, the employees had reported to work as usual because they didn’t have symptoms, according to Grace Pfordresher, regional director of Centers Health Care. That same day brought the facility’s first resident death from COVID-19, and the discovery that the residents’ roommate also had symptoms of COVID-19.

Pfordresher said last month that before that death, no residents of the nursing home were exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.

After that first death — which was also the first recorded COVID-19 death in Essex County — every employee and resident was tested, as were many close contacts of employees. The subsequent bouts of testing uncovered even more positive cases.

There were four active cases of COVID-19 countywide on Friday, down from five on Thursday. There were 165 people countywide with health orders to quarantine on Friday. Of those, 122 people were asked to quarantine for travel reasons; 43 people have been asked to quarantine because they came in contact with someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19.

As of Friday, Essex County had recorded 200 cases of COVID-19 since March, a number that has increased by 115 since Aug. 17. At least 18,679 COVID-19 tests of Essex County residents have been processed since March, according to the county Health Department.

Franklin County reported three active cases of COVID-19 on Friday, the same number as Thursday. Franklin County has recorded 163 cases of COVID-19 since March, 60 of them test-confirmed and 103 suspected by doctors but not lab-confirmed.

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