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7 new COVID-19 cases at Elderwood nursing home

LAKE PLACID — Another seven people at Lake Placid’s Elderwood of Uihlein nursing home — six residents and one staff member — have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past two weeks, a spokesman confirmed Tuesday, Aug. 24.

Altogether, 12 people either living or working inside the facility have tested positive for COVID-19 this month, according to Chuck Hayes, vice president of marketing and communications for Elderwood. Of those, eight are active cases; four people — two residents and two staff — have recovered.

Because the nursing home is facing what the state Department of Health defines as an “outbreak,” meaning one or more new cases of COVID-19 among residents or staff, the nursing home is still closed to visitors. Nursing home staff have been encouraging remote visits over online teleconferencing software instead.

It’s not clear how many of the residents and staff who tested positive for COVID-19 are vaccinated. Hayes said the nursing home is “unable to comment on the identity of the residents, staff or their present condition or vaccination status” because of privacy laws.

Hayes did say they expect at least “three of (their) residents and (two) staff members will be fully recovered by the end of this week,” because all of those people “will have been symptom-free for two weeks.”

Testing

Nursing home staff continue to monitor residents — and themselves — for symptoms of COVID-19, according to Hayes.

Any surveillance testing recommended by the DOH, which can help identify cases among those who don’t experience any symptoms, is also happening, according to Hayes.

“Our focus remains on the health and safety of our residents,” he said.

The DOH updated its guidance on surveillance testing last month. Operators of nursing homes are no longer required to test or arrange for routine testing for COVID-19 for employees, though daily symptom screenings are still required.

Hayes said earlier this month that the nursing home has routine testing protocols in place for all unvaccinated staff. Fully vaccinated staff are only required to get tested if it’s confirmed that they’ve been exposed to someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19. He also said whenever a case of COVID-19 is found in the facility, all staff and residents are tested.

Vaccines

For many months, those who were older and living in congregate living facilities were at high risk of dying or becoming severely ill from COVID-19. As of June, at least 172,000 people living or working in nursing homes across the U.S. had died from COVID-19, including more than 15,000 people in New York, according to the New York Times. Nursing home staff and residents were among the first to be eligible for vaccination against COVID-19.

The vast majority of the nursing home’s residents and staff have been vaccinated against COVID-19, according to Hayes.

Recent research has shown that vaccinated people infected with the delta variant of the coronavirus may be just as contagious as those who are unvaccinated. The delta variant is now the dominant strain of the virus in the U.S.

The vast majority of residents at Elderwood of Uihlein have been vaccinated. As of Aug. 10, 97% of the nursing home’s residents and 80% of the staff had been vaccinated, according to Hayes.

Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced earlier this month that all healthcare workers at hospitals and long-term care facilities will be required to get vaccinated.

“We will fully comply with the state mandate for the vaccination of all healthcare workers,” Hayes said Tuesday.