CANAAN, Conn. (AP/WTNH) — In the last six weeks, eight residents of a nursing home in Canaan have died during a COVID-19 outbreak that infected 89 residents and staff, nursing home officials reported.
The outbreak at the Geer Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Canaan began Sept. 30, Chief Executive Kevin O’Connell and Nursing Director Cady Bloodgood said in a statement Friday.
The eight residents who died had serious health problems, according to the officials. Those who tested positive included 67 residents and 22 staff members. The officials said 48 residents and 21 employees have recovered.
“It’s a tragedy. We have seen this at the beginning of the pandemic where lots of nursing homes were impacted, some severely like this,” Dr. Richard Martinello of Yale School of Medicine told News 8 on Monday. “Not everybody with COVID is equally contagious, and some people are highly contagious and lead to superspreader events and that’s what happened here.”
A superspreader event that got through the vaccine. According to Geer Village Senior Community, of the 89 positive cases, only two people were not fully vaccinated and none had received the booster. Of those who were unvaccinated, we do not know if they are staff or residents.
That means almost all of the cases were breakthrough cases, which right now is unexplained because statewide 99% of new COVID cases are unvaccinated people.
Dr. Manisha Juthani, the state commissioner for the Department of Public Health (DPH), said, “Although it is still very low in terms of the number of vaccinated people that get infected, we do know that it is possible, it is less than 1% of vaccinated people that are getting infected.”
The commissioner stated it’s important to get everyone vaccinated, especially in the elderly community.
“The unvaccinated groups are the drivers of this virus still being able to persist in the community,” Juthani added.
The latest state report on coronavirus infections in nursing homes released Friday said there were 45 confirmed cases among residents and 54 confirmed cases among staff members throughout Connecticut between Oct. 27 and Nov. 9. Three residents died.
This comes at the same time COVID-19 infections are up across the state. New data released on Tuesday shows the positivity rate at 4.3%, the highest it’s been since September.
Just under 250 people are hospitalized across Connecticut. Among them, 72% are not fully vaccinated.
O’Connell told the Republican-American there were no infections at the nearby Geer Lodge, an independent and assisted living center on the campus. He and Bloodgood said virus testing continues biweekly.
“While we must continue with COVID-19 prevention protocols, we want to assure everyone we are doing our best to keep residents and staff safe,” they said.
The nursing home, which houses 82 residents, has suspended in-person visitation, but virtual and window visits can be arranged.
Currently, there are three active cases among residents in Canaan, zero among staff members.