By Randy Arrington
LURAY, May 15 — While many longterm care facilities across the country continue to hold their breath from day-to-day hoping that an outbreak of COVID-19 does not enter their facility, Jill Irby is a little relieved by recent news.
“We’ve had no new cases in the past three days,” the administrator of Skyview Springs Rehab and Nursing Center said on Friday morning.
A total of 16 residents at the Luray facility have died since April 27 due to a COVID-19 outbreak that was first discovered on April 21. All 109 residents and 117 staff were tested the next day, with 59 residents and 18 staff members testing positive.
As of Friday, two residents of Skyview that tested positive for COVID-19 remained hospitalized at Winchester Medical Center.
“We’ve had some recoveries,” Irby stated on Friday, “so we’re happy for that.”
The administrator of the 120-bed facility would not say exactly how many of the residents had “recovered”, but she stated that the situation at the nursing home had “improved” and they hoped it “continues that way.”
Irby also stated that not all of the 18 staff members had returned to work, but “hopefully they’ll all be back next week.” Last week, Irby stated that 10 of the 18 staff members who tested positive for COVID-19 on April 22 had returned to work.
Outbreaks of COVID-19 have proven to be the most deadly in longterm care facilities. In Virginia, 167 of 287 outbreaks (58.2 percent) being monitored by the Virginia Department of Health as of Friday were in longterm care facilities. Deaths related to COVID-19 outbreaks in these facilities have totaled 570 — or 58.3 percent of all deaths credited to the pandemic in Virginia.
Valley Care Management, who operates Hawksbill Assisted Living and Whispering Pines in Luray, (as well as three other facilities in Elkton, Timberville and Tazwell), reported no cases of COVID-19 as of Friday morning among its 250 residents spread across five facilities.
“We are still totally free [of COVID-19 cases],” VCM marketing director Randy Atkins said on Friday. “We are using proper protocols, and we are just thankful.”
VDH reported two new cases of the coronavirus virus in Page on Friday, bringing the cumulative total for the county to 145. No new deaths or hospitalizations were reported.
The ZIP code breakdown for cases and testing provided by VDH shows three new cases in the area of Stanley from Wednesday to Thursday. VDH acknowledges that the ZIP code breakdown does not match cumulative totals for a given county due to several variables in ZIP code districts and the fact that ZIP code data was not included on all forms. However, the data is considered useful to help provide more specific information within a given county to help trace outbreaks.
The ZIP code data for Page County released on Friday (reporting date of May 14) was as follows:
- 22835 (Luray) — 84 cases, 195 tested
- 22851 (Stanley) — 43 cases, 95 tested
- 22849 (Shenandoah) — 11 cases, 77 tested
While the 138 cases reported here still leaves seven cases unaccounted for in Page’s 145 total — this breakdown shows more growth of new cases in the Stanley area (ZIP code) rather than in the more-populated county seat of Luray. Subtracting 59 cases discovered at Skyview Springs, Luray has only reported about 25 cases, according to the above breakdown. The residence of the 18 staff members that tested positive at Skyview has not been made public.
While there may be some discrepancies with ZIP code data (i.e. – a person living in the 22851 ZIP code may live closer to Luray or Shenandoah than Stanley) — the data provides one clear message for residents of the county: The COVID-19 pandemic in Page County is not confined to one nursing home, as many residents and some local officials have tried to claim.
Eight new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the Stanley ZIP code area in the past week. While 10 were reported in Luray and two in Shenandoah, Skyview accounts for some of the Luray cases. Stanley seems to be growing in new cases without any connection to a longterm care facility, correctional center, educational setting or congregate setting where most outbreaks are reported. That seems to indicate a communal spreading of the disease among one-on-one contact between people.
This news comes at an interesting time as Stanley officials are weighing the fate of the annual homecoming festivities. On Wednesday night, the Stanley Council discussed several options, including fireworks only, music and food without the carnival, pushing the event back to late July (or maybe even Labor Day) and several other variations to keep the event going.
If it stays on schedule, the Stanley Homecoming is about seven weeks away, with at least three weeks or more of Phase I restrictions in place by the state (which limits crowds to 10 people). Phase II restrictions, which could begin as early as mid-June and would still limit crowds to 50.
A meeting of the Stanley Homecoming Committee is planned for Monday night. The town council is sending a recommendation to try planning the event for late July rather than be centered around Independence Day.
Across the Lord Fairfax Health District, 22 new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Friday. The new cases were spread out across the district with seven in Shenandoah County, and four each in Frederick, Warren and Winchester.
Shenandoah County continues to be the “hot spot” of the health district and has lead in total cases and the rate of daily increases since April 29. Shenandoah has seen double-digit daily increases of new cases on 11 of the last 17 days, along with a steady climb of hospitalizations and deaths during that time period.
The district also saw one new hospitalization (Winchester) and one new death (Shenandoah) reported on Friday. A breakdown of total cases reported within the district is as follows (hospitalizations – deaths):
- 285 — Shenandoah County (24-10)
- 195 — Frederick County (15-3)
- 145 — Page County (19-16)
- 94 — Warren County (11-2)
- 79 — City of Winchester (4-1)
- 17 — Clarke County (2-0)
Harrisonburg saw 22 new cases overnight, while Rockingham County picked up seven. The two localities each picked up two new hospitalizations and no new deaths.
Statewide, 859 new cases were reported on Friday. That figure represents a decline from the 1,067 new cases reported the previous day, but it still sits higher than the two week-average. The daily increase of new cases statewide has shown no sign of declining (and may even be increasing slightly) as testing continues to be ramped up.
On Friday, the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association reported that 1,511 people are currently hospitalized in the state that have either been confirmed to have COVID-19 or are awaiting test results. That figure is the lowest since Monday.
Among those hospitalized, VHHA reports that 362 are in intensive care (up seven from yesterday) and 195 are on ventilators (down six).
VDH reported 22 new deaths related to the pandemic on Friday, bringing the COVID-19 death toll in Virginia to 977.