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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
    Lowville, NY- The four staff members at the Lewis County Residential Health
    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
    week.

    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.