By Randy Arrington
LURAY, May 2 — The Virginia Department of Health reported a second COVID-19 fatality in Page County on Saturday morning.
VDH reported the first county death caused by the novel coronavirus on Wednesday. The second followed three days later.
Officials at Skyview Springs Rehab and Nursing Center in Luray have confirmed that the first death in Page County reported on April 29 was among the 59 residents who tested positive for COVID-19 at the Luray nursing home.
However, Skyview also confirmed today that the virus-related fatality reported by VDH on Saturday morning was not among their residents.
On April 21, the Lord Fairfax Health District and Skyview both issued press releases announcing that a resident had tested positive for COVID-19. The following day, all of the facility’s 109 residents and 115 staff members were tested for the virus. A total of 59 residents and 18 staff tested positive.
At least 11 residents of the facility had been treated and returned to the nursing facility as of mid-week, with two still hospitalized at Winchester Medical Center.
No other local nursing homes have reported any cases of COVID-19, to include Valley Care Management’s Hawksbill Assisted Living and Whispering Pines in Luray, and Journey’s Crossing in Elkton. VCM sold the former MontVue Nursing Home (now Skyview Springs) to New Jersey-based Excelerate Healthcare Services on Jan. 31, 2018.
Skyview Springs is utilizing idle healthcare workers to fill staffing voids.
“We have signed a contract with Valley Health, and we are getting staff on a contract basis,” Skyview’s VP of Clinical Services Amy Dean said on Tuesday. “We use them on a day-to-day basis, as needed.”
Valley Health has reduced hours for some of its staff due to a period of reduced services mandated in order to help control the spread of COVID-19. However, the regional health system has established a $50 million paycheck protection fund to ensure that all employees receive at least 70 percent of their pay during forced furloughs. Some of those staff members are being utilized in other areas, such as nursing homes to help fill the void left by sick workers.
When Dean was asked how the outbreak started in Skyview Springs, she simply stated, “We don’t know.”
The facility’s media spokesperson, Charleen Pettit, contacts the families of those residents who tested positive for COVID-19 on a daily basis with updates. The families of those who tested negative receive weekly updates.
On Saturday morning, VDH reported three news cases of COVID-19 in Page County, bringing the total to 107. There were no new hospitalizations.
The five-county health district reported 27 new cases of the virus, but no new hospitalizations. Shenandoah County continues to lead the district in new cases, with 14 more reported on Saturday — 55 in the last four days. There have been a total of 473 reported cases within the district, with 42 hospitalizations and five deaths. A breakdown of total cases of COVID-19 by jurisdiction in the health district follows (hospitalizations – deaths):
- 134 — Shenandoah County (12-2)
- 115 — Frederick County (13-1)
- 107 — Page County (11-2)
- 61 — Warren County (4-0)
- 46 — City of Winchester (1-0)
- 10 — Clarke County (1-0)
VDH reported four new deaths in Harrisonburg Saturday morning. While the city’s reported number of COVID-19 deaths stands at 15, according to VDH, the Daily News-Record reports that there have been at least 21 deaths related to the virus at Accordius Health.
On April 18, the South Avenue nursing home reported that 81 residents in the 97-bed facility had tested positive for COVID-19, along with 12 of 35 staff members.
Among the 206 outbreaks across Virginia being reported by VDH as of Wednesday morning, 116 are within long term care facilities, where there have been 1,407 cases of COVID-19 reported and 111 deaths. There are 11 reported outbreaks within the local health district. VDH defines an outbreak as two or more cases originating from the same location or source.
Rockingham County reported 10 new cases overnight, but no new hospitalizations or deaths.
Statewide, the death toll grew by 35 overnight, to a total of 616. The number of COVID-19 related deaths has grown by an average of nearly 32 per day over the past five days in Virginia.
Testing remained high, with 6,802 tested Friday. That number was a significant drop from the previous day of 14,805, but still marked an increase from earlier in the week. Governor Ralph Northam has stated that the wants to ramp up testing prior to reopening the state.
A total of 17,731 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Virginia, with 830 being added on Saturday. Cases continue to climb by about 800 per day in the state, while hospitalizations have risen by just under 100 per day over the past week.