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Nursing home records 7th resident death

Another resident of an Elizabethtown nursing home has died of COVID-19, as of Wednesday, Sept. 2, putting the total number of fatalities connected to the coronavirus outbreak at Essex Center at seven in 16 days.

Since the nursing home and rehabilitation center’s first recorded resident death on Aug. 17, at least 88 positive cases of COVID-19 connected to the facility have been found. Three COVID-19-positive residents remain hospitalized.

The outbreak at Essex Center was discovered when a series of events unfolded in quick succession, all on Aug. 17. On that day, the nursing home received positive test results for three of its employees. Those employees were tested as part of the facility’s state-mandated weekly testing regime, but these tests had been administered on July 28 and July 29 — the positive results took upward of 19 days to get back. In the meantime, the employees had reported to work as usual because they didn’t have symptoms. That day also brought the first resident death from COVID-19, and the discovery that the deceased resident’s roommate also had symptoms of COVID-19, according to Grace Pfordresher, regional director of Centers Health Care, a Bronx-based organization that operates Essex Center.

After that first death — which was also the first recorded COVID-19 death in Essex County — every employee and resident was tested, as were many close contacts of employees. The subsequent bouts of testing uncovered even more positive cases.

As of Wednesday, there were 17 active cases of COVID-19 in Essex County. That’s down from 23 one week prior, on Aug. 26. In that same time period, the number of people who were released from mandatory isolation and deemed “recovered” — though people sometimes experience symptoms months after they’re considered noncontagious and recovered — increased from 62 on Aug. 26 to 83 on Wednesday. Not all of the active cases and recoveries countywide are connected to Essex Center.

Statewide, there were five recorded COVID-19 fatalities and 708 new cases. The state’s infection rate was 0.80% on Tuesday. New York’s infection rate has remained below 1% for 26 days, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday.

These seven Essex Center residents are Essex County’s only COVID-19 deaths. Neighboring Franklin County has had one COVID-19 death, according to the state Department of Health, but the county’s Public Health department has disputed that and says there are none. No COVID-19 deaths have taken place in neighboring Hamilton County, but one Hamilton County resident died outside of the county, according to the state and county.