COVID outbreak discovered at Elizabethtown nursing home

There is a coronavirus outbreak at the Essex Center nursing home in Elizabethtown, the Essex County Health Department confirmed Thursday.

At least 10 residents and three staff members at the nursing home — which experienced this county’s deadliest coronavirus outbreak to date last year — have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a spokesman for Centers Health Care, which operates the nursing home. Three residents were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Thursday, according to the county Health Department.

The vaccination statuses of those who tested positive were not immediately available by press time Thursday. The vaccination rates among nursing home staff and residents were also not immediately available by press time.

Cases found this week

A spokesman for Centers Health Care said the Essex Center was notified this past Friday that one of its residents, who was sent to the emergency room at Elizabethtown Community Hospital, had tested positive for COVID-19.

“Our first full round of testing revealed that no staff were positive,” Centers Health Care Director of Corporate Communications Jeff Jacomowitz said in a statement Thursday. “Contact tracing revealed that a positive resident was recently hospitalized and possibly exposed. We have conducted three rounds of in-house (resident and staff) testing.

“Over the past week, it was discovered that 10 positive cases emerged,” he said. “Like we did last year, a wing of the facility has been quarantined off for these 10 cases and dedicated fully-vaccinated COVID-19 staff are caring for these individuals. When they recover, as per the state Department of Health and the (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), they will be allowed to return to their rooms.”

The state Department of Health is working with Essex Center administrators to “identify corrective actions to prevent further spread,” according to the county Health Department.

The county’s deadliest coronavirus outbreak at a nursing home to date happened at Essex Center last year. The coronavirus spread to at least 110 people connected to the facility, including 60 residents, 38 staff members and 12 close contacts of staff. Sixteen people who either lived or received care at the facility died from COVID-19. There have been positive cases found at the facility since then, but until this week, there had not been another cluster of cases.

Safety precautions

The coronavirus is spreading faster in Franklin and Essex counties now than ever before.

More than 29% of the 2,446 COVID-19 cases reported in Essex County since March 2020 have been reported within the past three months. In Franklin County, 4,503 people have tested positive for COVID-19 since March 2020. More than 32% of those cases, 1,476, have been reported within the last three months.

The Essex and Franklin County health departments are continuing to recommend much of the same safety measures as they have for the past few months. Franklin County Public Health Director Kathleen Strack said last week that FCPH recommends diligence in wearing a mask, socially distancing, staying home when sick, getting vaccinated and washing hands frequently. The department also recommends sanitizing surfaces and reducing the size of gatherings.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said that at least 11 people had tested positive for COVID-19 at the nursing home; one of those people was re-tested and it was discovered the first result was a false positive, bringing the total number of positives to 10.


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