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COVID-19 outbreaks infect Mecklenburg and area nursing homes

There are 21 outbreaks of the virus in long-term living facilities across NC, according to state health officials. One nursing home has 60 people with COVID-19.

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — We've seen nursing homes get hit hard by the deadly coronavirus across the country. Wednesday, state and local health officials said there were multiple outbreaks at North Carolina nursing homes, including ones in Mecklenburg County and several surrounding counties. 

Governor Roy Cooper stepped up to the podium that we see him behind, weekly these days. Again, it was grim news. This time, an outbreak of COVID-19 at a nursing home in Orange County, just west of Durham. 

"These are shockingly large numbers," Cooper said. 

At least 60 people, including staff and residents at the nursing home, have COVID-19. For some, it's already taken their lives, according to Cooper. 

"Of those, seven are hospitalized, two have died," he added. 

The large and deadly outbreak is one of 21 across the state at long-term living facilities, including nursing homes, residential care facilities, and correctional facilities.

Burke, Cabarrus, Cleveland, and Stanly counties all have at least one nursing home outbreak, according to numbers by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Two nursing homes in Mecklenburg County are also battling outbreaks, per Gibbie Harris, the county's health director. 

"An outbreak is considered to be two or more individuals who have been diagnosed with COVID-19," Harris said. 

The local facilities have not been named for privacy reasons.

All nursing homes in the county implemented strict visitor restrictions weeks ago and are taking precautions, Cooper reaffirmed on Wednesday.

"We're tracking these outbreaks closely because we know that by nature, they can be hard to control," Cooper said. 

Now, explained new procedures to slow the spread in the senior facilities. 

"Facilities that have residents with the virus will group them into a separate area of the facility to make sure they are cared for by a separate group of staff," Cooper added. 

State health officials expect more residents and staff to test positive for coronavirus at the nursing home in Orange County, Cooper said.

As of Wednesday, Mecklenburg County health officials said they are investigating another possible outbreak at a third nursing home here in the county.

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