NCDHHS to release more COVID-19 nursing home stats after push from CBS 17, NC media members

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A coalition of media outlets including CBS 17 pushed North Carolina health officials to release more detailed information on COVID-19 outbreaks at congregate living settings.

In some cases, it’s been a struggle to get information on outbreaks at nursing homes. Up until now it hasn’t been consistent from county to county.

NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said a standardized report containing the names of facilities and the number of positive cases will be released twice a week – Tuesdays and Fridays by 4 p.m.

“In a congregate living setting, a COVID-19 outbreak is defined as two or more laboratory-confirmed
cases in persons who did not have COVID-19 diagnosed before arrival at the facility,” NCDHHS said. An outbreak is over once 28 days have passed since the date of symptom onset of the last case.

The first of these reports was released Monday afternoon.

“We’ve been always trying to strike the balance of transparency and getting good data to folks, protecting public health and protecting individual privacy,” said Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services on Monday. “And as far as other data work, we’re gonna continue to be as transparent as we can to put data up, making sure we’re balancing accuracy of that information with getting that information out to the public.”

CBS 17 worked with a group of news outlets across the state to push the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to release this information as well as the number of positive cases and deaths at individual facilities.

Monday morning, NCDHHS sent out guidance to local health departments on what will be released.

For the last several weeks, CBS 17 has told you about issues residents of these facilities and employees of these facilities have experienced.

Roshawda Rhodes used to work at Springbrook Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Clayton. She told CBS17 earlier this month she learned a resident of the facility had tested positive for COVID-19 a couple weeks after that resident started showing symptoms.

“We didn’t know who came in contact with our resident at the time when he had the symptoms,” she said Monday. “Very frustrating, you know, because you’ve got people that come to work that have pre-existing health conditions. They’re putting their lives at risk.”

Rhodes told CBS17 several days after her initial interview aired, she was fired from her job. She said managers did not cite the interview as the reason for her termination.

In the report released Monday, DHHS said Springbrook has had 65 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Seven people have died.

As of Monday, NCDHHS says there are 47 outbreaks at nursing homes across the state, and 126 people have died at the facilities.

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