The long-term care facility is in outbreak mode, which means quarantining and no visitation.By Amy Wadas

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Pa. (KDKA) — Premier Washington Health Center in Washington County is dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak.

Facility administration said 55 people tested positive for the coronavirus. Forty-nine of them are residents and six are staff.

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“The state considers one case an outbreak,” Premier Washington Health Center Nursing Home Administrator Thomas Parsons said.

This is what leaders at Premier Washington said they’ve been dealing with since the end of August. Now the long-term care facility is in outbreak mode, which means quarantining and no visitation.

“Each of our nurses has iPads where they can do Facetime visits with family,” Premier Washington Health Center Executive Director Tim Kimmel said.

Administrators said around 90 percent of the people who tested positive for COVID-19 are vaccinated and a good portion are asymptomatic.

“The vaccination is keeping people healthier but not totally preventing them from getting COVID,” Parsons said.

This is a trend, Parsons said, he’s seeing now that the COVID-19 vaccine is available. He said pre-vaccine, this wasn’t the case.

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“We are not seeing anywhere near the severity we saw in the beginning,” Parsons said.

This is also a trend that long-term care advocacy organizations like the Pennsylvania Health Care Association said they’re also seeing statewide.

“As staff or residents become vaccinated, even if they contract COVID in terms of breakthrough cases, symptoms are much less severe than if they would be unvaccinated,” said President and CEO of the PHCA Zach Shamberg.

Meantime, it’s unclear how the virus got into Premier Health. Facility leaders said it could have been brought into the building by a staff member or even a visitor. The facility is requiring staff to wear appropriate PPE and mandating testing for both staff and residents twice a week.

Visitors, on the other hand, are screened at the front desk and must get their temperatures checked before visiting a loved one.

Premier Washington is limiting visitation to just compassionate care visits until the facility reopens to visitors, which can happen 14 days after the last positive case.

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Meantime, Premier Washington Health Center is also dealing with a nursing shortage. This is something health care facilities are seeing all over the region. Premier Washington Health Center is holding a job fair on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for anyone interested in applying to work at the facility.