Public health officials on Sunday revealed that the coronavirus outbreak in Miami County has likely spread to a second nursing care facility, news that came even as they awaited test results from two deceased nursing home residents who may have been infected.
Miami County Public Health says two residents at Springmeade Health Center in Tipp City are presumed positive for COVID-19, and two resident tests are pending.
A staff member who worked at both Springmeade and Koester Pavilion in Troy is hospitalized and presumed positive for coronavirus.
Koester now has 13 residents and three staff members who are presumed positive for the virus, and two tests are pending for deceased residents Earl Bolinger and Glenn Witters.
Officials reported one additional presumably positive COVID-19 case in the county, which is a 56-year-old resident who has a history of traveling outside the country, according to Miami County Public Health.
“In the days and weeks ahead, the community can expect to see an increase in positive cases,” public health said in a statement. “This is due to test results becoming available and continued testing of those who are ill with COVID-19 symptoms. It is important to understand that this is expected and not cause for alarm.”
On Sunday, the Miami County coroner identified the second resident of the Koester Pavilion nursing home who died and who was tested for COVID-19. Witters was 83.
Witters, who was admitted to Upper Valley Medical Center in Troy on March 16, died four days later, March 20, according to Dr. William Ginn, Miami County coroner. Witters died one day before his 84th birthday.
Witters died one day after the death of 93-year-old Bolinger, who was also a resident at the skilled nursing care facility and who also was awaiting coronavirus testing results.
Three of the Koester Pavilion residents are hospitalized and multiple additional staff members have pending COVID-19 tests. Public health said one resident from Springmeade Health Center is hospitalized.
Koester has 108 residents and 165 employees and contractors, while Springmeade has 86 residents and 150 employees and contractors, according to Premier Health.
Koester and Springmeade are skilled nursing facilities operated by AdCare Health Systems, but they are affiliated with Upper Valley Medical Center, which Premier owns.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out not only to our care team members, but also to the residents of Koester Pavilion and Springmeade, those who are ill across the region, state and nation, as well as to the families of those who are mourning the loss of loved ones,” Premier said in a statement to the Dayton Daily News.
Employees at Premier’s facilities continue to take precautions to care for patients and residents, such as monitoring for symptoms and temperatures are being checked mid-shift, the organization said.
Employees are wearing masks and other personal protective equipment while caring for residents, and since March 12, visitors have been restricted, except for family in end-of-life situations, Premier said.
“We have asked our clinical teams to continue to follow all protocols concerning personal protective equipment (PPE),” Premier said. “If such precautions are followed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates there will not be a need to place limits on work and require isolation.”
Miami County Public Health staff have formed a team comprised of additional staff from Ohio Department of Health, Public Health Dayton Montgomery County and Clark County Combined health District to address the tracing of contacts with the cases.
Witters’ body was released to the funeral home and was not autopsied, the coroner said.
People transporting the body were aware he was a potential COVID-19 case and were told to take virus precautions, Ginn said. Witters’ body will not be autopsied if he tests positive for coronavirus.
If they test positive, they do not need to be autopsied, because there is not much valuable medical information to learn from such an examination, Ginn said.
People infected with COVID-19 appear to be capable of transmitting the virus even after death, so the virus exposure risks to medical examiner staff would not be worth it, Ginn said.
“I can’t tell you how long after death that period of time is, but I know that bodies can be swabbed for the virus after death and you can still get a positive result,” he said.
The health district now has a pandemic box on its death certificate that lists COVID-19, officials said.
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