Fayette County Public Health (FCPH) reported a fourth COVID-19 related death in the county Thursday — a male in his 80s.
“We ask that you please respect this family’s privacy as they mourn the loss of a loved one,” reads the FCPH statement. “No additional information about this patient will be made available.”
No new cases of COVID-19 were reported Thursday, and five individuals have recovered and been released from monitoring, according to FCPH. As of Thursday afternoon, there were 32 active cases and two people were hospitalized.
Four deaths related to COVID-19 have been reported in Fayette County since Friday, Aug. 21. The three individuals who were first announced by FCPH were residents at St Catherine’s Manor of Washington C.H. They were in their 70s — two females and one male.
As previously reported, as of Tuesday, 11 St. Catherine’s residents and three employees had tested positive for COVID-19. All are laboratory-confirmed cases.
St. Catherine’s continues to screen staff and residents for COVID-19 signs and symptoms, including temperature checks during employee shifts, according to St. Catherine’s officials.
“Our care community continues to follow CDC guidelines on the proper use of personal protective equipment, and monitor any new recommendations the Center of Disease Control, Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services, and state and local health departments. In addition, we have four different zones established throughout the facility; green, yellow, orange, and red. Each zone color represents a different level of risk of exposure to COVID-19, green being the least at risk, red being a full isolation COVID-19 unit. Each zone was created to increase safety of all residents and reduce risk of possible exposure and/or spread,” according to a statement.
All St. Catherine’s residents have been isolated to their halls since the beginning of the pandemic with no communal dining or activities. When a resident tests positive for COVID-19 within the care community, the resident is put into further isolation, which includes full PPE isolation protocols.
If there are several positive cases, an isolated COVID-19 unit is created, according to St. Catherine’s. This becomes a “red zone area,” which includes staff who are designated to this unit and only work in this area of the facility, and explicit PPE guidelines and usage procedures.
The St. Catherine’s employees who tested positive are off work and will continue to be off work until they are cleared by the facility and their treating medical professionals to resume their duties.
“We have educated staff to remain home if they are experiencing any type of symptoms,” according to St. Catherine’s.
As of Monday, Aug. 17, the outdoor scheduled visits at St. Catherine’s have been halted until further notice. Alternatives to outdoor visitations are offered, including Facetime calls, window visits, phone calls and smile mail.
Washington C.H. City Manager Joe Denen expressed his sorrow concerning the situation during an interview with the Record-Herald: “I think everyone feels compassion for the families. Whenever you lose a family member that’s a difficult thing, but to have something like COVID-19, that not that long ago didn’t exist, to contribute towards the death — it has to be a very difficult thing for everybody involved. It has to be a difficult thing for the staff members of the nursing home. I mean, in their business they’re going to be accustomed to loss, but that still has to make it even more difficult.”
According to Denen, during the recent Washington Court House City Council meeting, not only did he thank individuals and local businesses for doing what they can to support the community and keep each other safe, he also “reminded people they have the opportunity to make a difference every day with all of the precautions that now ought to be carved in stone in their mind.”
Denen also encouraged community members to cooperate with FCPH when they try to do contact tracing.
Essentially, contact tracing is an effort to determine who an infected person came into contact with. According to www.cdc.gov, contact tracing is conducted for close contacts (any individual within six feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes) of laboratory-confirmed or probable COVID-19 patients.
Contact tracing is a tool that can be used to help slow the spread of the virus by allowing those who have been exposed to be aware of the exposure in case they contracted the illness and will now be spreading it as well.
“I know there can be anxiety with that,” said Denen. “But it would be very helpful if they would be cooperative with the health department in a very difficult situation.”
Fayette County remains orange (Level 2) per the Ohio COVID-19 risk level guidelines, which indicates there is increased exposure and spread.
As previously reported, those experiencing symptoms with no underlying conditions can typically recover at home while self-isolating to prevent further spread. Those who wish to seek medical attention are asked to call ahead prior to entering medical facilities.
Testing has become more available to community members. Two different types of tests are a nasal swab and a blood test. The nasal swab tests for current infection while the blood test checks for antibodies to see if a person has previously had COVID.
While testing can be conducted at Fayette County Memorial Hospital (FCMH), the nasal swab test requires an order from a medical provider and is typically sent out to Ohio State University for evaluation — results typically take up to 70 hours.
The blood test can also be taken at FCMH with or without a medical provider’s order; however, without a medical provider’s order, it will cost $65 out-of-pocket — results are available after approximately 24 hours.
To have the blood test done without an order, FCMH direct-access lab services must be utilized. For more information on laboratory services, please visit www.fcmh.org/our-services/laboratory/.
The nasal swab test can also be conducted through CVS pharmacy, 1795 Columbus Ave. in Washington C.H. In order to test, a short questionnaire must be taken online and a testing time signed up for. This can be found at www.cvs.com/minuteclinic/covid-19-testing?cid=poct-covid19-mc-clinicvisit. At the time of the scheduled test, the drive thru at CVS should be utilized. The test is a self-administered swab. Results could take 6-10 days or longer due to high demand.