RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Even though COVID-19 vaccines are widely available, at least three Wake County nursing homes and assisted living facilities are dealing with outbreaks.
An outbreak is defined as at least two positive cases. Cadence in Wake Forest, Universal Healthcare North Raleigh, and the Knightdale Rehabilitation Center have each reported outbreaks to the Wake County Health Department within the past week.
“The good news is, although we’re seeing outbreaks, we’re seeing really smaller numbers of cases associated with those outbreaks,” said Dr. Susan Kansagra, section chief of chronic disease and injury at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
Dr. Kansagra said the outbreaks could include breakthrough cases or unvaccinated people. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services tracks breakthrough cases among the vaccinated, but the data isn’t broken down to show specific locations.
Statewide, about 90 percent of residents in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are vaccinated, compared to 80 of employees, according to Kansagra.
The executive director at Cadence in Wake Forest told CBS 17 they are performing contract tracing to find the source. The facility has a vaccine mandate for employees, and recommends it for residents. At Cadence 100 percent of employees and 94 percent of residents are fully vaccinated.
“While vaccinations are highly, highly effective, they’re not 100 percent effective so we will still see some cases, particularly in a population that had a lot of co-morbidities; they might be immunocompromised,” Kanagra said about the likelihood of breakthrough cases.
In the past month, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 54 COVID-19 deaths at nursing homes and 23 at residential care facilities. Kansagra said thanks to the COVID-19 vaccines, that’s down by 95 percent compared to the surge the state experienced last winter when most long-term care residents weren’t vaccinated.
“What we’ve seen since the winter of last year, where we saw a pretty big increase compared to delta virus, is that we’ve seen a 90 percent reduction in cases,” Kansagra explained. “So though we’re seeing outbreaks, there’s a really reduced number of cases associated with outbreaks and that’s really the success story due to vaccines.”