18 new COVID-19 outbreaks reported at long-term care facilities in Northern Virginia

This article was republished with permission from WTOP’s news partner InsideNoVa.com. Sign up for InsideNoVa.com’s free email subscription today.

This article was written by WTOP’s news partner InsideNoVa.com and republished with permission. Sign up for InsideNoVa.com’s free email subscription today.

Eighteen new COVID-19 outbreaks have been reported in Northern Virginia long-term care facilities since early December, with 27 total outbreaks in progress as of last week, according to new data from the Virginia Department of Health.

The number of total outbreaks in progress is the highest it has been since early summer, as COVID-19 cases surge regionally and statewide, although residents and staff at the facilities are in the first priority group to receive vaccines, some of which have already begun.

In response to emergency legislation passed by the General Assembly this fall requiring the state health department to provide details on all COVID-19 outbreaks reported to it, the department earlier this month created a new online dashboard, which is updated every Friday.

The latest update, Dec. 25, indicates that the vast majority of outbreaks are still occurring at nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, but it also includes outbreaks at preschools and daycares, public and private schools, medical facilities, and other institutions required to report outbreaks to the health department.

Only four such outbreaks in Northern Virginia are listed as being in progress as of the Dec. 25 report. Another 14 have been reported since the legislation became effective in late October but are now marked as “pending closure” or “closed.” That means no new cases have been reported within 14 or 28 days, respectively.

None of the outbreaks at facilities other than long-term care centers has resulted in a death, according to the data. Only three have resulted in more than 10 positive cases of COVID-19: Heritage High School in Loudoun County, 13 cases; Northern Virginia Mental Health Institute in Fairfax County, 11 cases; and the Exploring, Learning & Fun Child Enrichment Center in Fairfax, 11 cases. The first two outbreaks are still in progress, while the last outbreak is closed.

Statewide, only 10 outbreaks are in progress at public and private schools, even in localities where students have returned to in-person learning. The most serious current outbreak in a school is at Portsmouth Christian in southeastern Virginia, where 22 cases have been confirmed.

Among long-term care facilities in the region, the most serious current outbreak remains at the Inova Loudoun Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Leesburg, which has reported 69 positive cases and 16 deaths related to COVID-19.

Tracy Connell, a spokeswoman for Inova, said earlier this month that all visitation and admissions to the facility have been suspended. All team members and residents have been tested and will continue to be retested according to guidance from the Virginia Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control, she added.

None of the other outbreaks in progress in the region has resulted in more than four COVID-19 deaths, according to the data. However, of the 27 outbreaks, 12 have resulted in at least one death. The exact number of deaths is suppressed by the health department for privacy reasons if fewer than five are reported at a facility.

Four facilities in addition to the Inova Loudoun center have reported more than 30 positive cases: Waltonwood at Ashburn in Loudoun, 41 cases; Sunrise Senior Living-Braddock Glen in Fairfax, 35 cases; Tribute at the Glen in Prince William County, 33 cases; and Goodwin House-Bailey’s Crossroads in Fairfax, 32 cases.

In the early months of the pandemic, nearly two-thirds of the region’s COVID-19 deaths could be attributed to outbreaks at long-term care facilities. Several facilities had more than 30 deaths related to the virus.

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