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Health Team

Some NC nursing homes have slowed, stopped spread of coronavirus

Posted June 17, 2020 7:03 p.m. EDT
Updated June 17, 2020 8:03 p.m. EDT

— Dozens of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities across North Carolina have reported coronavirus outbreaks during the pandemic. But some facilities appear to have slowed or even halted the virus' spread.

WRAL's Data Trackers have determined 18 percent of confirmed coronavirus cases in North Carolina are in long-term care facilities. With the addition of prisons and other group homes, infections in congregate living settings goes up to 24 percent of the state total.

Deaths in congregate living facilities make up 68 percent of all COVID-19 fatalities.

Coronavirus outbreaks in NC nursing homes

COVID-19 outbreaks in NC long-term care facilities

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The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services started releasing locations of ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks in so-called congregate living settings, like nursing homes, adult homes and group homes, on April 27. The health agency defines an outbreak as two or more lab-confirmed cases in patients who weren't diagnosed with the disease before arriving at the facility. DHHS plans to update the data every Tuesday and Friday. Entries marked "**" indicate ongoing investigations by DHHS.

Source: N.C. DHHS // Updated: As of Sept. 15

Durham Nursing and Rehabilitation Center has seen 111 infections among residents and staff and 17 resident deaths in the pandemic. But the state Department of Health and Human Services hasn't reported any new cases or deaths there since late May.

Still, DHHS lists the outbreak – it's defined as two or more infections – as ongoing at Durham Nursing and Rehabilitation. An outbreak is considered over only if there is no evidence of continued transmission of the virus within a facility, according to the agency.

Relatives of residents say the center has done a good job controlling the virus' spread.

"By us not being able to visit family only doing video and phone calls, I believe that helped," said Lavonia Cayruth, whose sister is in Durham Nursing and Rehabilitation.

Lauren Zingraff, executive director of Friends of Residents in Long-Term Care, said many of the nursing homes she works with have done a good job of preventing the spread within their facilities by expanding testing of residents and staff and making protective gear more available.

"Some facilities have done very well and have done a good job at keeping the amount of COVID patients low because of these steps the home took," Zingraff said.

Nursing homes now face another challenge, she said, with many residents who haven’t seen family members for months dealing with depression.

Also, in the coming months, the facilities may have to deal with a second wave of infections.

"We are very concerned, based on what epidemiologists and our health experts are sharing about the possibility of a second wave," Zingraff said.

Overall, more than 47,100 people statewide have been infected with the virus, but more than 29,200 have already recovered. More than 1,200 people have died statewide during the pandemic, and about 850 are hospitalized with COVID-19.

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