Mercy COVID outbreak continues

Infections so far not progressing to serious disease, 44 total positive cases

TUPPER LAKE — The COVID-19 outbreak at Mercy Living Center is ongoing, with the total number of infected staff and elderly residents increasing by seven over the weekend, but infections so far have not progressed into serious disease for residents or staff, according to Adirondack Health spokesman Matt Scollin.

As of Sept. 13, 26 residents had tested positive, Scollin said. He said five more residents have tested positive since then, and four have exited quarantine as of Monday morning.

Two more staff members tested positive last week, Scollin said, bringing the total number of Mercy staff members infected in this outbreak to 13 out of 77 people working there. Some staff members have started returning negative tests, ending their quarantine and have returned back to work in masks.

There was one resident hospitalized. They were sent to the emergency department at Adirondack Medical Center, an Adirondack Health-run hospital in Saranac Lake, Scollin said. That resident was transferred to the intensive care unit for more serious care, but was transferred back to the “med-surge” floor for a lower level of treatment, Scollin said.

“I’m happy to report … they are doing well,” Scollin said.

So far, 80% of the Adirondack Health-run nursing home’s 39 residents have been infected with COVID-19. This is the most widespread outbreak at Mercy so far in two-and-a-half years of the pandemic.

Scollin said the families of all the people who have tested positive had been notified.

“There has been no real progression to serious disease which, obviously, we are very happy about,” Scollin said.

He said Mercy has not needed to deliver any infusion treatments.

“We are seeing a great deal of success with Paxlovid,” Scollin said.

Paxlovid is a COVID-19 antiviral pill.

While the nursing home remains open to visitors, visitations are being discouraged during the outbreak. The state Department of Health says Mercy is required to facilitate visitations, but discourages visitations. Last week, Mercy Living Center Administrator Madaline Toliver said in an email to families that if people visit, they are asked to “take an abundance of caution, acknowledge our outbreak status and the possibility of transmission during their visit.”

All visitors must wear a mask, goggles or a face shield and a gown, if appropriate.

According to Scollin, 97% of Mercy residents are vaccinated against COVID-19 and 92% of those vaccinated have received at least one COVID-19 booster shot. He said 100% of Mercy staff are vaccinated against COVID-19, as per state laws, and 64% have received at least one COVID-19 booster shot.

Updated booster shots called “bivalent boosters,” which add components of recent variants of the coronavirus — including omicron BA.4 and BA.5 — to the existing vaccine, only recently became available. The bivalent boosters are designed to boost protection that has waned in previous vaccines and boosters by targeting variants that are more contagious and immunity-resistant, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Scollin said Mercy residents are doing they best they can.

“Everyone would prefer to not be in outbreak,” Scollin said. “But most of our residents have seen this before. And we’re just really happy that there has been no serious progression to serious disease.”

He said they’re all waiting to get back to standard operating procedures, which could be as soon as next week. There must be zero positive cases in the facility to exit an outbreak.

“When a facility is in outbreak status, both staff and residents must test a minimum of three times in 14 days, until there are no more positive test results,” Scollin wrote in an email last week.


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