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|Four Staff at Lewis County Nursing Home Still Treated as Positive
COVID-19 Cases Despite Two Subsequent Negative Test Results
May 19, 2020 02:55 p.m. By: Nick Altmire
Care Facility that returned positive results for COVID-19 on Friday evening
remain in home isolation despite two subsequent negative test results.
Officials at Lewis County Health System first learned of the positve test results
on Friday evening. The four staff members at the nursing home facility had been
tested for COVID-19 on Thursday, as part of a directive from Governor Cuomo's
office requiring all staff at nursing homes across the state to be tested twice a
On May 5, all staff and residents at the nursing home were tested with all of the
results coming back negative for COVID-19. A second round of testing of nursing
home staff occurred early last week, with all results again returning negative.
When the four positive results returned on Friday evening it raised concerns for
Health System CEO Jerry Cayer.
With none of the four staff members experiencing any symptoms, Mr. Cayer
decided to collect two additional specimens from each of the four employees on
Saturday morning. One of each sample was sent to Samaritan Medical Center in
Watertown, to be processed using their rapid result system, with the other
samples sent to the outside reference lab the hospital uses for processing tests.
The reference lab was where the four original positive results came back from.
During a press conference on Saturday afternoon Mr. Cayer said the rapid test
results for each of the four staff that were conducted at Samaritan returned with a
negative result. This raised concerns that the original results from the reference
lab could have been "false positive" results.
Today, Mr. Cayer reported that the result of the second specimen sent to the
reference lab returned with negative results late last evening.
For now, the four staff members will remain in home isolation and will continue to
be treated as positive cases, Mr. Cayer said via email.
" I continue to work through and with the bureaucracy to recognize the two
negative test results for the four RHCF employees which should permit these
team members to come back to work," Mr. Cayer said. "The results of the last
two COVID-19 tests for these employees suggest the results reported last Friday
evening were false positives."
Lewis County Public Health Director Ashley Waite said in a legislative committee
meeting this afternoon that she is working with the State Department of Health
for guidance on how to handle suspected false positive results.