Outbreak at veterans home grows to 30, with one death

Laconia Daily Sun
Published: 11/18/2020 10:39:10 AM

A COVID-19 outbreak at the New Hampshire Veterans Home has now expanded to 18 residents and 12 staff, and one man has died, Commandant Margaret D. LaBrecque said Tuesday.

The number of those diagnosed with the virus at the facility doubled over the weekend after the National Guard performed testing with a mobile unit.

“Last Tuesday, we received the devastating news that our first resident tested positive for COVID-19,” LaBrecque said. “We acted quickly to restrict other residents’ contact, but, as we know, this virus is highly contagious.

“Once discovered, others had already been infected. We are extremely saddened by the death of one of our veterans.”

LaBrecque said the virus was probably brought into the home by a staff member who unknowingly contracted the disease in the community. The facility has been closed to visitors during the pandemic.

The residents are elderly and many of them have underlying conditions that make them more vulnerable to the disease. Veterans homes have been hard hit elsewhere. Fourteen people died at the Maine Veterans’ Home in Scarborough in April.

A 22-bed unit in the Tilton facility is being used for residents with COVID-19, LaBrecque said. With a dozen staff members sidelined in isolation because of positive test results, the facility can’t afford to lose any more personnel.

“Right now staffing is at a critical level,” she said. “Anybody elsewhere in the facility with LNA certification is being pulled to the floors.”

The National Guard will conduct testing again on Friday, and every week until there are no more positive test results.

As is typical, some of those with positive test results did not have any symptoms. Those at the home with the virus have symptoms such as fever and some crackling sounds from the lungs. Blood oxygen levels are being closely monitored.

Another Lakes Region facility hit hard by the virus is the Mount Prospect Academy in Plymouth, which has 31 active cases. Seven people who were diagnosed with COVID-19 have recovered.

Meanwhile, the state Health and Human Services Department is investigating an outbreak of COVID-19 associated with Calvary Wolfeboro church, 43 Mill Street, Wolfeboro.

“Individuals may have been exposed if attending the 9:00 am and 11:30 am services on Sunday, November 1, 2020. To date, 25 persons with COVID-19 have been identified with connections to the church community,” the department said in a news release.

On Monday, the department announced 358 new positive test results, including 12 in Belknap County, and a daily positivity rate of 4.3 percent. During the summer, daily cases dropped to under 20, with a positivity rate under 1 percent.

There are now 3,344 current COVID-19 cases in the state and 74 people are hospitalized with the disease. A total of 500 people have died.

These articles are being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information visit collaborativenh.org. 

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