Fifteen people at a long-term care facility in Decatur have been confirmed to have COVID-19, Macon County officials announced Saturday.
The cases occurred at Fair Havens Senior Living, and involved ten residents and five staff members.
The death of a Fair Havens resident from COVID-19 had been announced on April 7, along with news that four confirmed cases occurred at an unnamed long-term care facility.
In this case, the Macon County Health Department broke with state Department of Public Health guidelines, which call for not identifying facilities where outbreaks of communicable diseases have occurred. Health Department Administrator Brandi Binkley said they did so at the request of Fair Havens’ management.
“They have asked us to please get the word out that it is their facility as much as possible to aid in the communication on their part to their staff, the family members of these residents and as many people in the community as possible,” said Binkley at a news conference held in Decatur Saturday with Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe.
Binkley said she expected more confirmed cases to be announced Sunday and in coming days, as a result of other Fair Havens resident and workers being tested. But she noted that testing was not being extended to everyone at Fair Havens. She said state Public Health guidelines calls for limiting testing to a specific unit where an initial case has been found, once the unit has been isolated from the rest of the facility.
“They’ve taken those isolation measures in the unit to keep people that have been symptomatic or exposed in one space to try to limit that spread,” said Binkley. “Now, there have been staff that have symptoms; those staff have been directed to be tested.”
In a letter on posted on its website before the COVID-19 cases were discovered, administrator Mark Matthews said Fair Havens had taken steps against spreading the coronavirus, but suspending all visits from outsiders, including non-essential personnel and volunteers, except for compassionate care and end of life situations. Even then, he wrote that visitors are being screened for potential symptoms, and that residents and employees were being monitored for the same. Fair Haven employees are also wearing PPE, or personal protective equipment to guard against spreading the virus. Group activities and outings have also been canceled for the time being.
Macon County’s Joint Crisis Communication Team announced eight new COVID-19 cases in its daily report on Saturday, contributing to a countywide total of 25. The JCCT is a consortium of government agencies and healthcare providers in Macon County.