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Care facilities report COVID-19 stats

Wynwood House at State College has 15 resident, 10 employee cases

The state Department of Health on Tuesday released coronavirus statistics for individual nursing and personal care homes showing that seven facilities in the region have had cases — although none of those are in Blair or Bedford counties.

Only one home, in Centre County, has had resident or employee cases numbering five or more, with the other homes having case numbers that are unspecified, because precise smaller numbers can jeopardize confidentiality, according to the department.

That Centre facility is Wynwood House at State College, which has had 15 resident and 10 employee cases — with deaths that number fewer than five.

Schreffler Manor, also in Centre County, is the only other regional facility with deaths — fewer than five, as with its resident and employee cases.

Also on the department’s list are Haida Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Cambria County, with fewer than five patient cases; Mountain Laurel Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center and Knickerbocker Villa, both in Clearfield County and both with fewer than five patient cases; and Woodland Park Rehabilitation Center in Huntingdon County, with fewer than five employee cases.

Statewide, the home with the worst outbreak has been Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center and Beaver County — with 358 residents infected and 76 deaths, according to the chart.

In providing specific information on long-term care facilities, the department is following guidance issued 10 days ago by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said on her daily webcast Tuesday.

There also has been increased pressure from inside the state to provide individual long-term care home statistics, as reflected in reporters’ questions during those webcasts in recent weeks.

Because of the use of asterisks in place of numbers that are less than five, and because the department on Tuesday eliminated the aggregate county data for long-term care facilities that it had previously posted, the new information in some respects is less precise than what was available before.

For example, on Monday, the aggregate county long-term facility data showed that three Centre County homes collectively had 18 patient cases, 13 employee cases and five deaths.

On Tuesday, while the new chart specifically identified the three homes, it provided only ranges for the other numbers: 16-19 for resident cases; 12-18 for employee cases and 2-8 for deaths.

“We totally hear where you are coming from, and your questions are certainly warranted,” wrote department spokeswoman Maggi Mumma in an email in answer to a suggestion that the department restore the aggregate long-term care home data, while keeping the new individualized information. “We are going to be continuing to work to ensure our data is accurate, compared to what is occurring in each long-term care facility.”

The new long-term facility data also lacks aggregate case and death data for the state as a whole.

Ongoing issue

Long-term care facilities have created the gnarliest outbreak problem in Pennsylvania by far, with 13,626 residents and 2,111 employees infected in 561 homes, resulting in 3,086 deaths as of Monday.

The department is “thinking every day” how to deal better with the situation, Levine said on Tuesday, when asked how the department might do things differently, if it could start over.

As it is, the department has worked with state agencies, local health departments, a hired consultant and facility operators to help with testing, education of employees and provision of resources in order to prevent and mitigate outbreaks, according to Levine.

A quality assurance team has conducted visits and investigated complaints and an infection control team has worked with 250 facilities, while rapid response teams have helped with staffing shortages, according to the department.

The department recently called for testing of all residents and all workers in all facilities, which will better enable homes to segregate or cohort those who are infected from those who are not.

The state also has delivered more than 1,700 shipments of PPE to nursing homes, personal care homes and other long-term care facilities, both as routine deliveries and also to meet critical needs, and it has held webinars and classes for employees and facility leaders on how to use the equipment effectively, according to a department news release.

The department has also welcomed three CDC teams — two that will deal with long-term care facilities and one that will help with outbreaks in food processing plants, according to a department email Tuesday.

The teams will be in Pennsylvania for two weeks, assessing the problems, teaching infection control, training workers on use of PPE and outbreak response and helping develop testing and cohorting strategies, according to the email.

The CDC — which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services — has also allocated $301 million to Pennsylvania to support additional testing, according to an HHS news release Tuesday.

The money is the state’s share of $10.25 billion for testing nationally, and comes from the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, according to the news release.

Death statistics plummet — for now

A “deaths histogram” newly featured on the DoH website shows that the number of daily COVID-19 deaths in Pennsylvania has declined steeply from a high of about 175 on April 25 to fewer than 40 Friday — then to the mid-single digits for Sunday and Monday.

The number of daily positive tests for COVID-19 has also been declining, although not as steeply: from a high of 1,989 on April 9 to below 1,000 on four consecutive days early this month, then back over 1,000 for four more days, then back below 1,000 in the nine days since then.

Asked how to explain why death numbers have fallen so precipitously, while the case numbers have declined more gradually, Levine misunderstood, and said that generally, death statistics lag behind case numbers.

The department has been sharing much larger death numbers on its daily webcast and email, but those have often included prior deaths added as the department “reconciled” information from various databases.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.

By the numbers

New/total county cases: Blair 0/38 (1 death); Bedford 0/32 (2 deaths); Cambria 0/54 (2 deaths); Centre -1/132 (5 deaths); Clearfield 0/33; Huntingdon 0/214 (includes SCI Huntingdon 154 inmates, 50 recovered, 2 deaths; 45 employees, 19 recovered); area new/total cases: -1/503

New/total cases statewide: 610 (down 25 percent) / 63,666

New/total deaths statewide: 119/4,624, 7.2 percent of positive cases

New/total negative tests in area counties: 265/8,139

New/total tests in area (new positives plus new negatives): 264/8,642, 1.6 percent of population in Blair; 1.4 percent of population in area

New/total negative tests statewide: 8,481/286,034

New/total tests statewide: 9,091/349,700; 2.7 percent of population

Infection rate (percent of population with confirmed positives) region/state: 0.08 percent/0.49 percent

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