Health officials say lab backups slowing test results for nursing homes

Published: Aug. 27, 2020 at 4:44 PM EDT
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ELIZABETHTOWN, N.Y. (WCAX) - There are new details about the COVID-19 outbreak at the Essex Center nursing home in Elizabethtown, New York.

The facility says 38 of its 85 residents have tested positive for the virus, and 23 staff members are currently positive but they did not say how many staffers are employed at the facility.

The Essex County Health Department says one of the big takeaways here is how fast the virus can spread in big or small gatherings.

The Essex Center says they are shocked by the number of cases from staff alone. The health department says that staffers testing positive is nothing new in the county and that all nursing homes have had at least one positive case from a staff member. All positive staffers are in isolation.

“Taking a test is not the problem, it’s lab capability. We need to be really clear about that. There is lots of swab kits and all of those things, but it’s finding a lab that has quick turnaround to do that, that’s where Essex Center and many places had struggled. They always tested their people, it was never about not having that, it’s that the labs are backed up,” said Linda Beers of the Essex County Health Department.

Since the start of the outbreak, the health department says they have been able to get test results back within 48 hours.

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