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Auburn nursing home employee tests positive for COVID-19, visitation suspended
CORONAVIRUS

Auburn nursing home employee tests positive for COVID-19, visitation suspended

Coronavirus

The Commons on St. Anthony nursing home in Auburn.

An employee at The Commons on St. Anthony, a nursing home in Auburn, tested positive for COVID-19 last week. 

A spokesperson for Loretto, which operates the nursing home, confirmed Monday that the positive result was received on July 22. The employee was sent home and is in the midst of a 14-day quarantine. They will be tested at the end of the quarantine before returning to work. 

Family members of residents were notified on July 22, according to the company. 

"The area where this employee works has undergone an additional rigorous disinfection, above and beyond our already significant disinfection protocols," Loretto wrote in an emailed statement. "All other employees and residents who were on the same floor as this individual have been tested and we have not received any positive test results." 

Visitation has been suspended at The Commons on St. Anthony. New York allowed limited nursing home visitation earlier this month after a four-month shutdown. But the state Department of Health guidance requires that a facility can't have COVID-19 cases among residents or staff for at least 28 days before resuming visitation. 

Loretto emphasized in its statement that the safety and security of residents and staff is its top priority. 

"Loretto was one of the first senior care facilities to voluntarily implement the strictest protection protocols, and our facilities have had some of the lowest infection rates in the state," the company wrote. "It is because of our intense screening and precautionary measures that we were able to identify and isolate this positive case." 

Many nursing homes in New York have been COVID-19 hot spots. The state has reported more than 6,000 confirmed or presumed deaths in nursing homes. The total doesn't include any nursing home residents who were transferred and died at hospitals. 

Cayuga County has avoided a COVID-19 outbreak in its nursing homes. An employee at Finger Lakes Center for Living, a nursing home operated by Auburn Community Hospital, tested positive in late June. A resident at the nursing home tested positive earlier this month. While those are the publicly known cases, health officials have said there hasn't been a large number of COVID-19 cases involving either nursing home employees or residents. 

"We care for the most highly vulnerable population and need to protect them as much as we possibly can," Loretto said. "While our screening, PPE and disinfecting protocols are incredibly strict, this is why our community must continue to take this seriously and be careful in everything they do and everywhere they go." 

Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.

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Online producer and politics reporter

I have been The Citizen's online producer and politics reporter since December 2009. I'm the author of the Eye on NY blog and write the weekly Eye on NY column that appears every Sunday in the print edition of The Citizen and online at auburnpub.com.

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