Essex County Public Health confirms staff cases in live coronavirus outbreak conference

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ESSEX COUNTY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Essex County Public Health held a conference via Facebook livestream on Friday, to update communities on a COVID-19 case outbreak this week at Essex Center for Health and Rehabilitation which has led to the first two coronavirus-related deaths of county residents.

Public Health Director Linda Beers said that three residents of the nursing home had passed away, starting Tuesday with the first death of an Essex County resident due to coronavirus. Since then, one other resident was hospitalized and died in hospital care, and a Clinton County resident residing at the nursing home was discharged for home care and died at their Clinton County home.

As of midday Friday, 23 additional Essex Center residents had tested positive for coronavirus, with 17 more tests still pending. Beers said her department was hoping to see those results come in by the end of the day.

It hasn’t stopped at residents, either. New Friday was the confirmation that four members of Essex Center staff had also tested positive for coronavirus. Those staff members are now in mandatory quarantine.

Beers spoke on the testing procedures at work, saying that the first positive case at the center was a resident who had been sent to another medical facility after falling ill, and tested positive on arrival there.

Beers said that staff at the center had been getting weekly coronavirus tests by state regulation. Center residents had all been tested at some point during the pandemic, but state law did not require those tests to be routine. When tested, all residents had tested negative.

She also detailed that three of the four staff members to test positive were tested thanks to aid from New York State DOH’s Wadsworth Center.

Beers answered several questions from viewers.

One asked whether staff at Essex Center had been N95 fit tested, to ensure they could safely and secure N95 respirator masks. Beers said that some had been fit tested earlier on in the pandemic, and several more received fit tests on Thursday. However, she pointed out that N95 masks are only required when dealing with individuals confirmed positive for coronavirus. Nobody at the center had tested positive until this week, and so the demand may not have been as high.

Another question touched on the employment of nurses from out of the area as essential workers, in order to ensure adequate staffing to handle new cases. Beers described state guidelines for those workers, who are allowed to come and work if they are tested for coronavirus within 24 hours of arrival.

Beers did not answer any questions regarding the source of the first case at Essex Center, and said her department was not holding the stream to represent the statements of Centers Healthcare.

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