MOUNT VERNON – Knox Public Health has reported the county’s first COVID-19 outbreak at a long-term care facility.
According to KPH spokeswoman Pam Palm, 10 patients and three staff members at Country Court Skilled Nursing Center in Mount Vernon recently tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
"The identification of these cases came from testing that Country Court requested and was done at Knox Community Hospital," Palm said in an email.
The Ohio National Guard also conducted random testing at all of the state's long-term care facilities last week, Palm said, including Country Court. All patients and staff were tested.
"We do not know the exact number tested nor the results of that testing," Palm said, "but if one of the current positive cases from Country Court is positive from the National Guard testing, that individual will only count as one positive case.
"This is true with all individuals who test positive multiple times: they are only counted once in our total numbers."
When reached by phone Wednesday morning, Country Court Facility Administrator Will Levering said only one patient had tested positive for COVID-19, although "there are other patients who have been tested and are showing two or more symptoms."
Levering said the facility is awaiting official results for those patients. However, when asked about the discrepancy, Palm said KPH had already communicated the latest test results (13 positive cases) to the facility and has been working with nurses to gather contact information.
Levering said any patient who has tested positive or has exhibited symptoms has been quarantined within the facility, in accordance with Ohio Department of Health protocol. The facility has purchased personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent COVID-19 infections among patients and staff. Staff members who have shown symptoms or tested positive have been required to self-quarantine at home for 14 days.
As reported on July 20, Knox Public Health listed nine confirmed cases as being "isolated at Country Court." The youngest patient in this group is 71 years old, while the oldest is 92 (there are two patients this age). Seven of the nine infected individuals are 80 or older.
Levering said Country Court is monitoring its patients and staff members on a daily basis, checking for symptoms and testing whenever possible. He believes the facility "has the capacity to treat patients" who have tested positive for COVID-19 under ODH guidelines.
“We are taking all of the precautions that the Ohio Department of Health, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommended for the protection of the patients and the staff members, and all of the necessary and appropriate care services are being given," Levering said.
Country Court Skilled Nursing Home specializes in rehabilitating patients after a health event, Levering said. The facility is able to treat up to 92 patients at once – with 92 staff members across all departments – but Levering was unsure Wednesday of the facility's current numbers. They change daily, he explained, as many patients will head home after short-term treatment stints.
“There’s not a typical (number of patients) because depending on what services are being given, that number changes on a daily basis," he said.
Long-term care facilities – and the people who inhabit them – have been hit particularly hard by COVID-19, data shows. As of June 11, 71 percent of Ohio's coronavirus deaths and 24 percent of its cases were linked to long-term care facilities. While confirmed cases are trending younger nationwide, older citizens are still far more likely to die from the virus, according to CDC data.
The outbreak at Country Court is Knox County's first at a long-term care facility, but it's not the first time a local LTC staff member has tested positive. An employee at The Laurels of Mount Vernon, on the city's north side, tested positive on April 15. The infected individual, a 22-year-old female, was the county's 10th confirmed case.
As of Tuesday, Knox County has recorded 93 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to Knox Public Health. Fifty of the confirmed cases have recovered, 41 are active, and two residents have died. Knox County saw its second COVID-19 fatality over the weekend, when a 74-year-old U.S. Air Force veteran from Howard passed away.