The recent spike in coronavirus cases reported in Schuylkill County can be linked, at least partly to nursing homes here, and an outbreak at one in particular.
That’s what we learned from the Pennsylvania Dept. of Health when we asked about the 60 cases reported in 4 days here. That rate far exceeds a recent trend of only a handful or less of new cases daily since late-July.
Since our report earlier this week, the numbers from the DOH have been altered slightly. Here are the daily case counts we found on the state’s COVID-19 dashboard late Tuesday night:
- Sept. 21: 3
- Sept. 22: 7
- Sept. 23: 15
- Sept. 24: 5
- Sept. 25: 21
- Sept. 26: 19
- Sept. 27: 12
- Sept. 28: 9
You can see when the numbers start going up considerable. In the last 4 days of reporting from DOH, there have been 61 new cases and 81 in the last 6 days of reporting.
Recent COVID Spike Partly Linked to Cases at Schuylkill County Nursing Homes
After our report earlier this week, we received a tip that the recent “spike” may be linked to an issue at a nursing home here in Schuylkill County.
So, we approached the Dept. of Heath for some confirmation. And the DOH confirmed that an outbreak at one particular nursing home is at least partly to blame for the recent spike in positive cases here.
According to Maggi Mumma, deputy press secretary at the Pennsylvania Dept. of Health, 32 of the recently confirmed cases, since Sept. 23, have been reported at Schuylkill County nursing homes. That includes 29 cases among residents and 3 cases among staff.
Most of those cases can be linked to one nursing home, in particular. Mumma said the LTCF data, as of Sept. 23, showed less than 5 cases of COVID among residents and less than 5 cases of COVID among staff at Schuylkill Center, just outside Pottsville. However, in a Sept. 28 update, from the DOH, it shows 25 cases of COVID among residents at Schuylkill Center and less than 5 among staff.
Still, the 32 cases of the 71 reported in Schuylkill County from Sept. 23-27 represents 45% of the recent spike. The numbers reported from the DOH on nursing homes was received by The Canary prior to the state releasing new data for Sept. 28.
That’s not all the cases, of course, so there’s still evidence of the virus existing in Schuylkill County outside nursing homes here. But the spike in cases at Schuylkill Center is evident.
Mumma says the DOH is working to contain outbreaks across the state.
“In communities across Pennsylvania, the department is actively working to monitor cases and clusters of cases and responding quickly to any outbreaks or potential outbreaks to stop the spread of COVID-19 in its tracks,” Mumma told The Canary on Monday.
Schuylkill County Nursing Home COVID Data
Schuylkill Center is 1 of 5 local nursing homes that have reported cases of COVID among residents and staff since the start of the pandemic.
According to the Sept. 28 update from DOH, here are the total number of resident cases at Schuylkill County nursing homes (resident deaths in parentheses):
- Manorcare-Pottsville: 79 (16)
- Shenandoah Manor: 35 (5)
- Schuylkill Center: 25 (0)
- Green Valley-Pitman: 16 (0)
- Hometown Nursing & Rehab Center: Less than 5 ( <5)
Among these facilities, a total of 63 staff members have tested positive for COVID since the beginning of the pandemic reporting.
Here’s a look at the data from the DOH:
The state also reports, that among nursing homes, long term care facilities and personal care homes in Schuylkill County, there have been a total of 219 positive COVID cases among residents and 61 among staff since the start of the pandemic. And 29 people in Schuylkill County have died at these facilities combined since then.
Schuylkill County COVID Hospitalizations
The recent spike in COVID cases in Schuylkill County has put more people in the hospital for treatment. The state is now reporting 12 Schuylkill County residents being treated in local hospitals for COVID infections.
The death toll has remained the same for quite some time. The last reported death happened back on Aug. 9. Schuylkill County’s COVID death toll is at 52.
National Guard Helping Contain the Outbreak?
The Canary also received a tip that the Pennsylvania National Guard was helping to contain an outbreak at one Schuylkill County nursing home. However, that turned out not to be true.
We contacted LTC Keith WIlcox, the state public affairs officer with the Pennsylvania National Guard, to find out more.
WIlcox tells us he’s not aware of anything happening here.
“I don’t believe the National Guard is involved,” Wilcox says.
The National Guard is helping to curb a COVID outbreak at a nursing home in Shamokin, according to WNEP-TV. The station reported Tuesday that the National Guard is helping at Mountain View Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Northumberland County. The facility currently has 85 active resident cases.
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