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Tupper nursing home worker tests positive; all residents test negative

Mercy Living Center In Tupper Lake (News file photo)

A staff member at the Mercy Living Center in Tupper Lake has tested positive for COVID-19, but all residents of the facility have subsequently tested negative.

The staff member received the positive result on Monday after being tested Friday as part of the facility’s routine testing regime, according to Adirondack Health, which owns and runs the nursing home. All residents of the facility were tested that same day, and the results, returned Tuesday, showed no new positives, according to Adirondack Health spokesman Matt Scollin.

The residents’ tests were able to be processed overnight because the hospital chose to utilize rapid testing equipment, given the increased risks associated with COVID-19 in nursing homes, according to a news release from Adirondack Health.

Franklin County reported one active case of COVID-19 countywide as of Tuesday morning.

All Mercy Living Center residents and staff are expected to be tested again this week. In an email sent to residents’ families on Monday, Mercy administrator Madaline Toliver said staff test results were expected within 72 hours.

“Until all test results are back, all residents are on contact and droplet precautions, and are being observed for signs and symptoms of respiratory infection,” Toliver told families.

All nursing home staff statewide are required by the state Department of Health to be tested at least once per week — though the results of nursing home staff tests don’t always arrive quickly. The Essex Center nursing home and rehabilitation facility in Elizabethtown waited upward of 19 days for results from its weekly staff tests, which gave the coronavirus time to get inside and spread before it was detected. Six Essex Center residents have died as of Tuesday, and at least 84 people connected to it have tested positive for COVID-19.

In the email to residents’ families, Toliver said the facility’s director of nursing confirmed that all staff were compliant with mask and eye protection policies over the weekend.

This isn’t the first time a Mercy Living staff member has tested positive for COVID-19. A staff member tested positive on May 31, a few weeks after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that nursing home staff would be required to be tested twice per week, an order later amended to once per week. Contact tracing was completed within hours, and dozens of people were ordered to quarantine. The employee tested negative a few days later.

Mercy Living Center recently implemented a temporary no-visitation policy in light of a COVID-19 outbreak at Essex Center.

Nursing home residents are among the highest-risk populations amid the coronavirus pandemic. As of Aug. 13, more than 402,000 people at some 17,000 facilities across the country have been infected by the coronavirus, the New York Times reported last week. At least 68,000 people have died, accounting for roughly 41% of total COVID-19 deaths in the United States.