PENN YAN — Yates County Public Health officials say two residents of The Homestead have tested positive for COVID-19, and both residents have been hospitalized in acute care units since the results were received.
The Homestead at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hospital in Penn Yan houses 130 skilled nursing beds, 20 behavioral beds and one respite bed for scheduled short-term stays.
In a report to the Yates County Legislature Monday, Public Health Director Deborah Minor said Public Health staff are working with Homestead staff to identify all close contacts. The residents had been in isolation while laboratory results were pending.
Three other residents were tested over the weekend for COVID-19 infection. These three tests were negative.
The Homestead and Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hospital are prohibiting visitors, according to a sign outside the main entrance and The Homestead entrance off North Main Street.
Soldiers & Sailors Homestead Administrator, Robert Burlingham, confirms “that all staff have been following New York State Department of Health guidelines for PPE and screening of health care workers at the start of their shift for symptoms of COVID-19, including temperature checks. The Homestead has reached out to family members to make required notifications.”
Finger Lakes Health and The Homestead will continue to work with NYSDOH and Yates County Public Health to monitor all residents and staff and conduct testing as appropriate.
Social distancing remains the most important prevention method at this time, health officials said. “While we are seeing evidence that New York State, particularly in the downstate area might have reached a peak, we continue to ask everyone to stay at home as much as possible. Some experts believe that the peak in Western New York may not yet have occurred and there continues to be community transmission in the region,” states Minor.
As of Monday afternoon, there have been five positive cases in Yates County with two recovered. One hundred and nine test results have returned negative, and 25 people are in isolation or quarantine, according to the report to the legislature.
Minor says while other area counties are identifying the towns where people with positive test results are located, Yates County is not, out of concerns that people in one area may assume there isn't a risk if the positive case is in another area. She also noted that some people may be managing their symptoms at home without testing. "Just because a town is not listed does not mean there aren't positive cases," she said.
The novel coronavirus has killed more than 1,000 elderly and disabled New Yorkers in nursing homes, including at least 113 in Westchester County alone, new data show.
The newly reported death toll underscored how COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, is ravaging nursing homes tasked with protecting some of the most vulnerable people.
State officials on Monday released the county breakdown of the nursing home death toll of 1,064 in response to questions from a USA TODAY Network New York reporter.
The overall death toll in nursing homes, however, was lower than previously provided by the state Department of Health, which on Sunday stated 1,979 deaths among nursing home residents people have died in New York nursing homes connected to coronavirus. State officials didn't immediately provide clarification on the discrepancy.
New York, like other states, has faced increasing pressure to reveal more data related to the coronavirus pandemic, which had surpassed 10,000 deaths overall in New York as of Monday morning.
While the county-level nursing home fatality information sheds more light on the problem, advocates and relatives of nursing home residents have called for the release of infection and death counts for specific nursing home facilities.
Public Health officials encourage residents to continue to:
• Stay home and practice social distancing; only leave your house for absolute necessities.
• If you are sick, please stay home. Most cases of COVID-19 are mild and can be managed at home.
• If you have symptoms such as cough, fever, or shortness of breath and think you are too sick to stay home or if you have questions, call your healthcare provider.
• Wash your hands often with warm water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Avoid close contact with people who are ill.
• Do not return to work until you have been fever free for 72 hours without the use of fever reducing medications.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw in the trash or cough or sneeze into the inside of your arm.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as faucet handles, door knobs, countertops and other surfaces.
For questions about COVID-19, contact the New York State hotline at 1-888-364-3065 or Public Health at 315-536-5160. For more information, please visit www.yatescounty.org or https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/.