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Testing shows no new COVID cases at Mercy

TUPPER LAKE — A third round of COVID-19 testing at Mercy Living Center before the weekend turned up no new positive cases, and if the number of cases does not rise at the nursing home in its next two rounds of testing, it will be able to exit “outbreak” status on Dec. 5.

The Adirondack Health-run nursing home entered into “outbreak” status two weeks ago.

While a facility is in outbreak status, there are specific precautions required for visitors. Visitors have to wear face masks and other protective equipment and visits are held in individuals’ rooms to limit exposure to others. Mercy still encourages outdoor, virtual or window visits.

Adirondack Health spokesman Matt Scollin said 16 of Mercy’s 51 residents and eight of its 100-or-so staff members had tested positive for COVID-19 before the weekend. This latest round of resident and staff testing yielded all negative results and indicates that spread of the virus has been low at Mercy.

“We’re very happy about that,” Scollin said. “It seems like our efforts are paying off.”

Of the 16 COVID-positive residents, Scollin said 14 are vaccinated and two are not. He said all eight staff are vaccinated.

Scollin said two COVID-positive Mercy residents have been hospitalized at Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake — one is in the intensive care unit.

There have been no deaths as a result of the nursing home outbreak.

Ten of the positive residents have been given monoclonal antibody treatments based on their medical histories, their oxygen saturation and if they have any symptoms.

With a new shipment of the antibodies, Scollin said the facility has “more than enough” to give to everyone who needs it. He said symptoms in some residents have begun to alleviate.

Scollin said Mercy tested all residents again Monday evening and will test everyone again on Friday. If both rounds turn up no new cases, the state will lift Mercy’s outbreak status on Dec. 5. Scollin said they’ll all be glad to leave the outbreak behind.

“Anytime you’re in outbreak status it’s certainly a little bit disruptive,” Scollin said. “Human beings are social and when you see less of other human beings it’s an adjustment.”

Scollin said residents are dining in their rooms. Activities are being held in individual rooms or in socially distanced spaces, but he said there are no gatherings allowed.

Staff who test positive for COVID-19 are required to test negative before returning to work.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that while the nursing home is in outbreak status visitations are limited. Adirondack Health spokesman Matt Scollin said Tuesday that recent changes to U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and state Department of Health guidelines require nursing homes to facilitate indoor visitations for all residents at all times. He said Mercy is taking extra precautions while it is in outbreak status to allow these, requiring visitors to wear face masks and other protective equipment and holding visits in individuals’ rooms to limit exposure to others. He said Mercy still encourages outdoor, virtual or window visits, too. The Enterprise regrets the error.

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