COVID-19

The COVID-19 outbreak at Keene Center has now infected 57 people at the Court Street senior-living facility, including roughly half its residents, a Genesis Healthcare official said Wednesday afternoon.

Forty-four residents and 13 staff members have tested positive for the viral disease, according to Lori Mayer, spokeswoman for Genesis Healthcare, which owns Keene Center and several other area nursing homes.

No deaths have been attributed to the outbreak, Mayer said.

Genesis Chief Medical Officer Dr. Richard Feifer declined to say Monday how many residents have been hospitalized due to the outbreak, citing patient confidentiality.

The latest case numbers represent 16 more residents and five additional employees than the facility reported Monday.

Last Friday, when Genesis confirmed the outbreak in response to an inquiry from The Sentinel, 18 residents and two staff members had tested positive.

Keene Center — which has about 80 residents and 115 staff members — learned of the first of these cases Dec. 30, Feifer said Monday. All of the cases are active.

Long-term care facilities are especially vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic, health officials have said. The virus is known to travel quickly through congregate-living settings, such as nursing homes, due to the proximity of residents, many of whom have underlying health conditions.

And New Hampshire long-term care facilities have been hit the hardest in the country, according to a recent report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, with deaths at long-term care facilities making up 77 percent of the state’s total.

To date, 684 of the state’s 885 COVID-19-related deaths have been connected with long-term care facilities, and 5,081 people from those facilities have tested positive for the disease, according to the state health department’s latest data. 

To prevent the virus from spreading any further, Mayer said Keene Center has been separating residents with the virus from those who aren’t infected.

This is on top of other safety protocols, including daily COVID-19 testing, restricting visitation, screening residents for symptoms three times daily and taking staff members’ temperatures upon entering the building. All outside medical appointments, except those that are necessary, have also been canceled.

Additionally, Keene Center residents and staff began receiving COVID-19 vaccines on Dec. 30 through a partnership with CVS Pharmacy.

The state is aware of the outbreak and is assisting the facility, according to N.H. Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Kathy Remillard.

On Monday, Feifer said Keene Center “may never know” how the outbreak happened. However, he said research shows that the community’s transmission rate directly correlates with nursing home outbreaks.

“The reality is this virus is coming from the community,” he said, “and now more than ever, we need our communities to follow masking, social distancing and other protocols to stop this virus.”