Skyview Springs reports 14 deaths; VDH provides new data by ZIP code

Skyview Spring

By Randy Arrington

LURAY, May 8 — On Tuesday, Skyview Springs Rehab and Nursing Center attributed eight deaths to the COVID-19 pandemic. On Thursday, the administrator of the Luray nursing facility increased that figure to 12. By Friday morning, it had climbed again, to 14.

More than two weeks ago, an outbreak at the longterm care facility was discovered in which 59 residents and 18 staff members tested positive for COVID-19. The first case was discovered at the 120-bed facility on April 21 — mass testing of all residents and staff took place on April 22.

As of Friday, Skyview Springs administrator Jill Irby said the facility is still on a daily basis contacting the families of “about 48” residents who tested positive for COVID-19. The administrator said one resident of the facility is currently hospitalized with COVID-19 at the Winchester Medical Center.

In addition, all 18 staff members who tested positive for the novel coronavirus may be returning to work next week.

“Five of them have returned to work,” Irby said Friday morning. “The others are at the 14-day mark and should be returning to work next week… It’s been 14 days today [since the result of the test].”

Despite the return of the regular staff, Irby said the Luray nursing home may continue to utilize extra help being provided by furloughed healthcare workers in the region. Skyview Springs entered an agreement with Valley Health two weeks ago to utilize employees who had hours cut or were temporarily laid off. 

“I don’t mind having extra help,” Irby said, “and if they want to continue working, we will continue to pay them at least through the end of the month.”

Last month, Valley Health launched a $50 million paycheck protection fund to ensure that their employees received at least 70 percent of their pay while they were out of work.

Randy Atkins, marketing director for Valley Care Management, said that “everything is still good” as of Friday morning at their facilities in Luray (Hawksbill Assisted Living and Whispering Pines) and Elkton (Journey’s Crossing). VCM sold the former MontVue Nursing Home (now Skyview Springs) to New Jersey-based Excelerate Healthcare Services on Jan. 31, 2018.

On Friday morning, the Virginia Department of Health was still only reporting 11 virus-related deaths in Page County — the same figure as the previous day. The difference between that figure and Skyview Spring’s statement of 14 fatalities is most likely due to a lag time in reporting between various state agencies and private sector laboratories and facilities.

Irby did state on Friday that all 14 deaths at Skyview Springs being attributed to COVID-19 are confirmed cases. VDH recently began listing reported cases of the virus and related deaths as either “confirmed” or “probable.”

Due to strict privacy laws, the state health department does not release detailed information about COVID-19 patients. In a new breakdown of data by ZIP code being offered by VDH, the state will not even offer this data for small localities with a handful of cases because of fear that the public will figure out who is sick.

Here’s how that new data looks for Page County:

  • ZIP code 22835 (Luray) — 74 cases of COVID-19, 179 tested
  • ZIP code 22851 (Stanley) — 35 cases, 87 tested
  • ZIP code 22849 (Shenandoah) — 9 cases, 68 tested 

VDH reported one new case of COVID-19 in Page County on Friday morning, bringing the cumulative total now to 123. Among those, it has been confirmed that 77 cases (62.6 percent) were either residents or staff at Skyview Springs. However, the new ZIP code data provided by VDH would indicate that the virus has spread throughout the county, well beyond the walls of the Luray nursing home.

This is not to say that all cases in the county started at Skyview — quite the opposite is true. There were already 14 reported cases in Page County when the first case was discovered at the nursing home, and health officials can not say how long the 18 staff members were carrying the novel coronavirus before testing positive on April 22.

Local reports suggest that one of the first cases to surface in the county came from a Fairfax resident who was also a local cabin owner who traveled to his property in Page County from the state’s “hot spot” in Northern Virginia. The county’s first case of COVID-19 was reported on March 31.

The new ZIP code data from VDH only accounts for 118 of the county’s 123 reported cases. The state health department stated that while it has county data on every case, “we do not have ZIP code data on every record. Because this field is not complete, the total number cases and tests by ZIP code may not match the same total county by county.”

The new ZIP code data also shows that 35.8 percent of COVID-19 cases in Page County are in the towns of Stanley and Shenandoah — a total of 44 cases as of Friday. The data also indicates that 334 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Page County — the first time that data has been released.

VDH did not report any new hospitalizations or deaths in Page County on Friday. The Lord Fairfax Health District saw 30 new cases reported, but only one new hospitalization and two new virus-related deaths (Frederick and Shenandoah counties). 

Shenandoah County continues to lead the district, now with 236 cases of COVID-19 — 23 reported overnight. About 66.5 percent of Shenandoah County’s total cases (157 of 236) have been reported in the last nine days. Health officials are concerned that meat processing plants in the county (and region) may be the source of recent outbreaks.

As of Friday, here’s a breakdown by jurisdiction of total COVID-19 cases within the local health district (hospitalizations – deaths):

  • 236 — Shenandoah County (18-4)
  • 150 — Frederick County (13-2)
  • 123 — Page County (13-11)
  • 78 — Warren County (7-0)
  • 61 — City of Winchester (2-0)
  • 16 — Clarke County (2-0)

Harrisonburg saw 30 new cases reported overnight and one new death, bringing the city’s cumulative totals to 574 cases, with 33 hospitalized and 21 deaths. Rockingham County reports another 320 cases (10 new), with 21 hospitalized and only one death.

Statewide, 772 new cases were reported on Friday morning by VDH. Over the past seven days, Virginia has averaged 777.3 new cases per day since hitting a one-day high of 1,055 new cases on May 1.

VDH reported 43 new deaths related to the pandemic on Friday, bringing the total to 812. The daily death toll has averaged 33 in Virginia over the last week.

Fairfax County continues to lead the state with 5,338 total cases of COVID-19 being reported, along with 881 hospitalizations and 227 related deaths. Fairfax saw its highest one-day increase in COVID-19 cases of 294 on Sunday, May 3. This morning’s report showed 293 new cases.

The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association reported Friday morning that 1,625 patients across the state remain hospitalized, who have either been confirmed to have COVID-19 or are awaiting test results. Among those, 378 are in intensive care and 199 are on ventilators.

VHHA also reports that 2,997 people who were confirmed to have COVID-19 and were hospitalized, have been discharged.

Virginia saw its first case of COVID-19 reported on March 7 in Prince William County. The first fatality in the state attributed to the pandemic was reported March 14. 

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