BENNINGTON — A COVID-19 outbreak affecting 24 people and suspected in the deaths of two residents this month has been reported at the Centers for Living and Rehabilitation.
The facility has reported 24 cases of COVID — three staff and the remainder residents — since Sept. 10, according to Dr. Trey Dobson, the chief medical officer at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center.
That’s two more than the 22 cases reported on the Vermont Department of Health website as of Tuesday.
Centers for Living and Rehabilitation, located on the campus of Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, is majority owned by Allaire Health Services of Freehold, N.J. Doctors at the facility are SVMC medical staff, and supervised by Dobson, SVMC spokesperson Ashley Jowett said.
The 130-bed facility serves a number of patients, from short-term rehab stays to long-term and palliative end-of-life care. Dobson said the outbreak was confined to the long-term community.
While most cases have been mild to moderate — a state of affairs Dobson credits to the power of vaccinations — two residents have died, and one is hospitalized as of Tuesday, Dobson said.
About half of the residents affected have qualified medically for monoclonal antibody treatment, which is also keeping down the need for hospitalization, Dobson said.
Both deaths were people in their 90s who were also in declining health, Dobson said. “It’s impossible to determine whether COVID was causative [in their deaths] or if they tested positive at the same time,” he said.
All of the residents are vaccinated, and about 90 percent of the staff is vaccinated, Dobson said. Vaccination will become a condition of employment at SVMC on Oct. 31, and at Allaire on Nov. 1, Dobson said.
According to Dobson, recent state data listed 136 positive cases in long-term cases across the state in the past seven days. These cases are appearing in long-term care communities because many people living in those facilities have underlying medical conditions.
“The good news is the vaccine is keeping them out of the hospital,” Dobson said. “That’s very different from what we experienced” at the start of the pandemic, he said.
The state Department of Health website also lists outbreaks at Vermont Veterans’ Home in Bennington with 18 cases, and Equinox Terrace in Manchester Village, with 17 cases.
But Melissa Jackson, the chief executive executive officer at the Veterans’ Home, said the most recent positive test was for a staff member, on Sept. 18, and that a resident has not tested positive since Aug. 25 — more than a month ago.
Staff vaccinations at the Veterans’ Home are at 75 percent of staff overall, with 60 percent of registered nurses and 56 percent of nursing assistants.
A message left in person for administrators at Equinox Terrace was not returned by press time Tuesday.