BOONE — An outbreak of three COVID-19 cases was reported at Glenbridge Health & Rehab, a skilled and intermediate nursing facility, during the week of Aug. 9-15, according to AppHealthCare.
The health department reported the outbreak and two ongoing clusters at Appalachian State as part of its weekly COVID-19 Situation Update. The update for Aug. 9-15 was distributed on Aug. 21, and it stated, “The numbers of cases provided reflect the number of cases at the time of this report.”
The outbreak at Glenbridge included one staff member and two residents. AppHealthCare also reported that a cluster of cases at Appalachian State University’s Child Development Center was ongoing, with four staff members and six children affected, and mentioned the cluster of cases associated with Appalachian State’s football program.
The university initially announced a cluster of 11 active cases associated with the football program on Aug. 18; by Aug. 21, AppHealthCare said the number of active cases in that cluster had decreased to five. To date, 34 cases — 30 athletes and four staff — have been associated with App State’s football team, AppHealthCare confirmed.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services has been collecting and reporting data on outbreaks and clusters in congregate living settings (including nursing homes, residential care facilities and jails and prisons) and in child care and school settings. NCDHHS defines an outbreak as two or more laboratory-confirmed cases. A cluster is defined as a minimum of five cases with illness onsets or initial positive results within a 14-day period and plausible epidemiologic linkage between cases.
Alyssa Bryant, director of nursing at Glenbridge, said the staff member who tested positive was asymptomatic and has since tested negative, and that the two residents were being tested again on Monday, Aug. 24.
In a statement posted to its Facebook page on Aug. 21, Bryant and Glenbridge Administrator Kristy Jones said that Glenbridge is working diligently to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in its facility, and that the positive cases occurred “despite all efforts” to follow all recommended precautions for high-risk environments.
“Our team acted promptly to prevent further exposure. For the safety of our residents and staff, all confirmed cases have been on strict isolation with personal protective equipment in place,” Bryant and Jones said in the statement. “Glenbridge is fortunate to have a rapid detection of SARS-COV-2 system that can give us in-house results within 15 minutes. With these rapid test results our team can act quickly in our infectious control response for symptomatic residents and staff.”
The two noted that Glenbridge was found to be “deficiency free” in a recent NCDHHS 2020 Infection Control Survey.
“We would like to personally thank the Watauga health department for their close relation with us during this time, and ongoing efforts to keep our community safe, our staff members who go above and beyond for our residents, and lastly our residents’ family members who continually show our Glenbridge family love and support during this time,” Jones and Bryant said.
In its weekly update, AppHealthCare noted that ongoing testing continues to monitor the health of residents in skilled nursing facilities. The health department’s district also includes Ashe County, where outbreaks were reported at Margate Health & Rehab and RHA Group Home. A cluster of nine cases among farmworkers was also reported at Barr Evergreens Farm.
The AppHealthCare Situation Update noted that the largest percentage of Watauga’s cases continues to be among the 18-24 age group.
“Of the newly identified cases for this week, we are continuing to see the same trend with cases exposed due to close contact with others through living or working closely with others or attending social gatherings,” the report stated.
“This pandemic has made it more apparent than ever that each person’s health is affected by the community as a whole and in order to slow the spread of this virus, it will take all of us,” Jennifer Greene, AppHealthCare director, said in a statement. “We recognize the benefit college students have within our local community and know they are an important part of our COVID-19 response effort. This virus is highly contagious and sometimes people can spread the virus without realizing it because they have mild or no symptoms at all. Now is not the time to be attending large gatherings and parties with large groups.”
The full Situation Update, including information on trends, testing and response efforts, can be viewed below this story at WataugaDemocrat.com.