24 dead; 1 nursing home doesn’t test; 1 moves residents

HUDSON—Two more people have fallen victim to the coronavirus in Columbia County since yesterday. In its May 12 Covid-19 update, as of 3 p.m., the county Department of Health (DOH) reported the deaths of the 23rd and 24th community members due to the virus.

In all, there have been 328 positive cases of Covid-19; 136 of the 328 people have recovered from the virus; 7 of the positive cases are hospitalized, 1 of those hospitalized is in the ICU.

The DOH has received 2,521 completed test results for Columbia County residents; 177 residents are under mandatory quarantine and 11 under precautionary quarantine.

In the county-issued Tuesday, May 12 Covid-19 update press release, Columbia County Department of Health Director Jack Mabb said that four of the five nursing facilities in Columbia County are conducting coronavirus testing.

“Four of them are working with us,” he said. As of Tuesday, Livingston Hills in Livingston had tested 92 of its residents and the bulk of its staff, while the FASNY Firemen’s Home in Hudson has completed testing on one wing, as well as the bulk of its staff, all with negative results.

“Pine Haven [in Philmont] had one positive test result from yesterday, along with another death of a resident. However, the resident who died was transferred in, just the day before,” Mr. Mabb said in the release.

Testing of both residents and staff continues at The Grand at Barnwell in Valatie. “We’ve had nothing but cooperation from them. I applaud the folks at The Grand—they have a horrific situation on their hands, but they’re courageously working to get to the bottom of the situation.”

But anonymous complaints made to The Columbia Paper said that the The Grand had not notified family members that residents were being transferred.

Mr. Mabb said late Tuesday afternoon that the Grand had transferred 37 people to other facilities, most of them going to Long Island and the rest sent to Rome, NY. All of the transferred residents tested negative for the coronavirus.

At this time 32 staff members of the Grand at Barnwell have tested positive for the virus and the transfers have helped reduce the workload of caregivers who remain, Mr. Mabb said. The facility has a total of 236 beds on 6 floors, with 216 residents; 117 of the residents have tested positive for the virus. Tests results on the remaining residents are expected to be available later this week. The Grand received help from staff at Columbia Memorial Health in taking the test samples.

Governor Cuomo offered to have all nursing home residents in the county tested for the virus and a list of those residents was sent to the state Monday. A total of 677 test kits were provided.

No one at The Grand at Barnwell was available to respond to a reporter’s questions late Tuesday afternoon.

“That leaves Whittier as the only facility to not take test kits. They are the only facility not working with us. Initially, we were told by someone at the facility that they wanted 180 kits, however, later someone called back to refuse them,” Director Mabb said. Whittier is the former name of what is now the Ghent Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.

Frank Yeboah, administrator of Ghent Rehabilitation said Tuesday that his facility, which has 120 beds, has no residents who test positive or have symptoms of Covid-19. He attributed that to the policy of isolating new residents for 14 days before admitting them. He said Ghent Rehabilitation is a “Covid free” facility and suggested that the county should house all those who test positive or have symptoms of the disease in a single nursing home, while patients who are not infected could live at the other nursing facilities.

Mr. Yeboah said his facility would not be able to take on Covid-19 patients because its current patient census is 116. He also said that Ghent Rehabilitation is following federal CDC guidelines and would comply with the governor’s requirement for testing the nursing home staff for the virus twice each week, although he dismissed that practice as “absolutely absurd.”

Also in pandemic related news:

*The Monday, May 11 press release issued by the office of county Board of Supervisors Chairman Matt Murell, said some confusion had resulted regarding the county’s purchase of antibody testing kits and diagnostic testing kits.

The county is indeed continuing to pursue the purchase of diagnostic testing kits. Future testing clinics will be held by the County Department of Health. Meanwhile, County DOH personnel are investigating the most accurate and reliable antibody testing kits for use in the county. There are still many in the medical and science fields questioning the accuracy of antibody test kits, and if a person actually has immunity even if they have Covid-19 antibodies.

*“I think the first meeting of the Columbia Comeback committee went well—it was a good group of business owners who want to do things legally and safely when their businesses are allowed to reopen,” said Columbia County Board of Supervisors Chairman Matt B. Murell, following Monday’s kickoff meeting held on YouTube. A replay can be viewed via a link on the Columbia Economic Development Corporation website at https://www.columbiaedc.com/

The committee next meets on Tuesday, May 26 at 1 p.m., and can be accessed from the CEDC website.

*Anyone who wants to donate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as N95 masks, face shields, and gowns, are advised to contact the Emergency Management Office at 518-828-1212. If there is no answer, leave a message and someone will return the call.
Food donations should be directed to the county Office for the Aging 518-828-4258 and local pantries.
Monetary donations for the purchase of much-needed equipment for emergency responders, medical personnel and others on the front lines of the coronavirus fight can be sent via check in care of Columbia County, with coronavirus noted in the memo field. Mail the check to the Columbia County Controller’s Office, 401 State Street, Hudson 12534. All money received is being placed in a dedicated account.
A hotline has been established for the elderly and vulnerable in the county, including those with medical conditions or who are disabled and would welcome a deputy checking on their well-being on a daily basis. The number for the hotline is 518-828-0601 X 1400.
For the most up-to-date, accurate information visit the County Department of Health’s website at https://www.columbiacountynyhealth.com/home/coronavirus-covid-19 or their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Columbia-County-Department-of-Health-469399129790791/. The state’s coronavirus website, with up-to-the-minute information, can be found at https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/home.

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