COVID-19 deaths associated with outbreaks at long-term care facilities are a significant factor in the area's total total number of deaths related to the illness.
As of Thursday, the Mount Rogers Health District reported 165 virus-related deaths in the six counties and two cities it encompasses. According to data from the Virginia Department of Health's long-term care facility outbreak tracker, at least 97 deaths have been associated with outbreaks at nursing homes, assisted living and multi-care facilities in the district.
The database that tracks those outbreaks does so in both facility residents and staff members. Residents who have lived in their facilities for longer than two weeks are tallied in the county the facility is in. Staff members who live outside the locality of their employer are reflected in the localities in which they reside, but are also accounted for in the outbreak database. The database does not differentiate between residents and staff members.
Below is a breakdown of total COVID-19 deaths in each of district's localities and the total COVID-19 deaths associated with outbreaks at long-term care facilities in those localities.
Smyth County now leads the health district in the number of COVID-19 deaths with 37. The sudden jump in the total-- from 27 to 37 on Wednesday-- coincides with a similar jump in the total of virus-related deaths reported at Valley Health Care in Chilhowie, where an outbreak began at the end of August. A similar jump in the facility's death count occurred in late September due to a backlog in data as VDH worked to identify virus-related deaths using death certificate information.
- The Southwestern Virginia Mental Health Institute in Marion is also now reporting one death associated with an outbreak at that facility. According to the latest update from the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, SWVMHI reported on Tuesday that 33 staff members and 38 patients currently had the virus and one patient had died. Last week, a VDBHDS spokesperson said the majority of active cases at the facility was associated with its geriatrics ward. SWVMHI is not a long-term care facility, and so is not reflected on the database.
In Wythe County, Carrington Place at Wytheville is also currently reporting an outbreak in progress. According to the database, the facility reported having 27 cases of the illness as of Monday with no deaths reported. The database lists the outbreak as reported on Nov. 8. Two outbreaks reported earlier this year at Carrington Place at Rural Retreat saw few enough cases to have its numbers suppressed and resulted in no deaths. Wythe reports seven deaths in the county.
Bland County, which has seen relatively few cases of the illness compared to surrounding localities, can likely attribute most, if not all, of it's five virus-related deaths to an outbreak earlier this fall at the Bland County Nursing and Rehab facility in Bastian. With 36 cases associated with the outbreak there, the facility reported five deaths. The Bland Correctional Facility is also reporting 14 cases in inmates and three in staff or contractors. No deaths associated with the prison have been reported to the Virginia Department of Corrections outbreak tracker.
Similar to Bland, Bristol reports seven COVID-19 deaths and lists six deaths associated with one of the outbreaks reported at a facility there.
Washington County, which leads the health district in cumulative cases with more than 1,500, reports 29 deaths. At least 15 deaths associated with outbreaks at three long-term care facilities are reported on the outbreak database. Two of those outbreaks, one of which began in April, are listed as pending closure.
Carroll County, which also reports 29 virus-related deaths, experienced outbreaks at two long-term care facilities, as well. One of those outbreaks is listed as closed and the other as pending closure. Between the two, 15 deaths were reported.
Galax, which previously led the health district in virus-related deaths, still reports 30 deaths. At least 20 in that locality are associated with outbreaks at two long-term care facilities.
At least 10 deaths are also reported as associated with an outbreak at a long-term care facility in Grayson County. Grayson reports having 20 deaths in all.
More information on outbreaks at nursing homes, assisted living and multi-care facilities can be found at www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/health-professionals/virginia-long-term-care-task-force.
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