On Dec. 22, 2020, a Cayuga County nursing home in Auburn, New York started injecting Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines into residents. Exactly a week later, three residents died because of the disease.
The Commons on St. Anthony is one of four nursing homes in Cayuga County. It gets the lowest rating of one-star from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
Despite its below-average rating on health inspections, staffing and quality of care, the 300-bed nursing home managed to be free of COVID-19 – until it started vaccinating residents.
Elders are vulnerable to the virus so it was no surprise that it spread quickly at the nursing home. Since the outbreak began, 21 residents have died at The Commons and three more at the hospital. At least 115 residents have been affected by the virus while 47 employees have also tested positive.
The first three deaths at The Commons on Dec. 29, 2020 were the first three nursing home COVID-19 deaths in Cayuga County. The three other nursing homes in the county have not reported any COVID-19 deaths.
Loretto, which operates the facility, announced earlier that droplet precaution is in effect throughout the nursing home. It means the employees are required to wear personal protective equipment, such as face shields, gloves and gowns, when caring for residents. There are also designated floors where residents who tested positive are being isolated.
Cayuga County’s virus-related death toll has risen dramatically over the last two weeks. There have been 25 COVID-19 deaths reported in the county in a span of 11 days, based on Cayuga County Health Department’s daily reports.
The total COVID-19 death toll in the county has increased from 13 on Dec. 21 to 44 as of Thursday, Jan. 7. The nursing home deaths account for most of the county’s COVID-19 fatalities.
The nursing home seemed determined to finish injecting all residents with COVID-19 vaccines amid the mounting death toll. (Related: COVID-19 vaccine trial participant DIES… AstraZeneca downplays the death and continues the medical experiments on the remaining humans.)
So far, 193 residents (80 percent) and 113 employees (less than 50 percent) have been vaccinated. The nursing home planned to continue the vaccinations Tuesday Jan. 12.
Outbreak started before vaccination, Loretto official claims
Julie Sheedy, an official of Loretto, believes the outbreak at The Commons started before the residents were vaccinated as a wave of post-Thanksgiving COVID-19 cases hit the county.
An active case involving one of the nursing home’s employees reinforces Sheedy’s claim.
One of the employees infected is Kaylee Gabak, a certified nursing assistant at The Commons. She is currently on life support at Upstate University Hospital. Her family believes Gabak was infected at The Commons before she went on maternity leave on Dec. 16, 2020. Gabak gave birth to a baby girl on Dec. 26, 2020 and was already home when she developed breathing problems.
Sheedy said they are devastated by the outbreak.
“Our team is always deeply affected by any loss of life, and our hearts are with the families of these individuals,” Sheedy said.
According to Sheedy, the nursing home is testing residents on a schedule established by the state health department and is also testing employees weekly. The health department inspected the facility’s infection control practices and found no deficiency.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 3,650 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Cayuga County. Nearly half of those cases have been reported since Dec. 21.
The average percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 in Cayuga County is 12 percent, by far the highest rate in Central New York. Here are the average positive test rates for other counties in the region: Onondaga, 7.8 percent; Oswego, 9.7 percent; Madison, 8.5 percent; and Cortland, 8 percent.
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