COVID-19 ball

The recently announced COVID-19 outbreak at Keene Center has now infected 36 people at the Court Street senior-living facility, a Genesis Healthcare official said Monday afternoon.

Twenty-eight residents and eight employees have tested positive for the viral disease, according to Dr. Richard Feifer, chief medical officer for Genesis Healthcare, which owns Keene Center and several other area nursing homes.

The latest numbers represent 10 more residents and six more staff than Genesis reported Friday evening in response to an inquiry from The Sentinel.

As of Monday, there had been no deaths associated with the outbreak, Feifer said.

“Residents have both been symptomatic and asymptomatic ...” he said in an email. “They are all doing well thus far.”

He declined to say how many residents have been hospitalized due to the outbreak, citing patient confidentiality.

Keene Center — which has about 80 residents and 115 staff members — learned of the first of these cases Dec. 30, according to Feifer. He said all of them are active.

Eleven residents have received antibody infusions in recent days, he said.

People who have recovered from a severe case of the viral respiratory disease have antibodies in their blood, known as convalescent plasma, according to the Mayo Clinic. This plasma can be used in treating COVID-19 patients with active cases in an effort to boost their ability to fight the infection.

Keene Center — as well as other Genesis Healthcare-owned facilities — has been taking extra precautions since March, when COVID-19 cases began increasing across the state, including visitor restrictions and the use of personal protective equipment, according to Feifer.

Residents are also screened for symptoms three times daily, and staff members’ temperatures are taken upon entering the building. Additionally, all outside medical appointments, except those that are necessary, have been canceled.

Since the outbreak, the facility has also increased its surveillance testing of all staff and residents from twice weekly to daily, he said.

Long-term care facilities are especially vulnerable during the global pandemic, New Hampshire 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 already have underlying health conditions.

Facilities experiencing an outbreak receive guidance from the state, such as how to isolate patients and staff, according to Kathy Remillard, spokeswoman for the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services. She added the state is aware of the Keene Center’s cases and is assisting that facility.

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

He said Monday the facility “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.”

Olivia Belanger can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1439, or Follow her on Twitter @OBelangerKS.