The Lord Fairfax Health District has weathered the COVID-19 storm better than many other regions but some outbreaks are lingering despite facilities’ best efforts to squelch them.
The Virginia Department of Health’s dashboard of ongoing outbreaks in long-term care facilities and nursing homes shows that Life Care Center of New Market holds the rank of the most severe ongoing outbreak in the state. The center’s outbreak has accounted for 105 cases and 15 deaths since June 21.
Dr. Colin Greene, the director of the Lord Fairfax Health District, said the facility’s outbreak is a bit of an anomaly.
“The one thing that is unusual about this, from our experience, is it’s been a slow-progressing outbreak,” Greene said. “It’s not one that was gotten under control and stopped. It’s been a very slow process.”
The VDH declares a facility has an outbreak when two or more connected cases appear in a given location. Greene said that if two people in one facility happen to contract COVID-19 but aren’t closely linked at work, or they do not have any other connection besides work, the VDH wouldn’t say there was an outbreak. However, if two colleagues on the same floor or a nurse and patient both test positive, the VDH would say there was an outbreak at the facility.
At the Life Care Center, Greene said that new cases have continued to crop up since June 21 but there didn’t appear to be any massive spike in cases. The outbreak is considered ongoing, he said, because at least one new case has been detected within 28 days of a previous one.
Greene said the VDH uses 28 days as its window because people are typically infectious for the first 10 to 14 days of contracting the virus and a 14-day window of seeing no new cases is a standard period for health officials to gauge whether there is ongoing community spread.
New Market’s outbreak ranks high on the active list of outbreaks, Greene said, but it is not the worst scenario the state has dealt with this year. A contributing factor to the facility’s predicament, he said, is the length of time the outbreak has been active as dozens of outbreaks have been reported in the two months since June 21.
On the facility’s part, Greene said, everyone has been in constant contact with VDH offices to communicate what is happening and how to handle the situation.
“The staff there has been in regular contact with us and representatives of Valley Health,” Greene said, “and has made every effort to get this under control.”
The Life Care Center of New Market did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday.
The VDH reported 1,126 new cases, 63 new hospitalizations and 11 new deaths on Thursday, bringing the statewide total to 123,668 cases, 9,741 hospitalizations and 2,652 deaths. Total figures include 5,478 probable cases, 68 probable hospitalizations and 133 probable deaths.
The Lord Fairfax Health District reported eight new cases, two new hospitalizations and no new deaths on Thursday, bringing its total to 2,840 cases, 250 hospitalizations and 97 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. Total figures include 313 probable cases, one probable hospitalization and eight probable deaths.
Shenandoah County has had 775 cases, 82 hospitalizations and 50 deaths.
Frederick County has had 774 (up two from Wednesday) cases, 61 (up one from Wednesday) hospitalizations and 11 deaths.
Winchester City has had 451 (up four) cases, 35 hospitalizations and four deaths.
Warren County has had 395 (up one) cases, 22 hospitalizations and six deaths.
Page County has had 363 (up one1) cases, 39 hospitalizations and 26 deaths.
Clarke County has had 82 cases, 11 (up one) hospitalizations and no deaths.
James Madison University reported the university health center conducted 126 COVID-19 detection tests on Wednesday and one returned positive. The university’s caseload was 617 on Thursday and it has recorded 47 cases as recovered.
The university dashboard also tracks self-reported positive cases, which reached 455 on Thursday and includes four cases among staff or faculty.