Almost 70 Test Positive for Coronavirus at Topsfield Care Facility

Fifty-eight residents and 11 employees at Masconomet Healthcare Center have tested positive for the coronavirus

NBC10 Boston

The Masconomet Healthcare Center in Topsfield, Massachusetts, is reporting 58 residents and 11 employees have coronavirus.

"We are deeply saddened by this news," town officials wrote in a statement. "Our thoughts are with those battling the virus and their families during this difficult and uncertain time."

The families of those who tested positive have been notified by Whittier Health Network, the parent company of the 123-bed long-term nursing facility, town officials said.

The details of the outbreak were released by Topsfield Town Administrator Kevin Harutunian, Emergency Management Director Chief Jen Collins-Brown and Topsfield Health Agent Wendy Hansbury Wednesday.

The outbreak is isolated to the facility and does not pose a threat to the general public, according to town officials, who noted that the state data would reflect the increase in cases later that day.

For the second straight week, the state Department of Public Health released a breakdown of the total number of coronavirus cases in each Massachusetts city and town. As of Wednesday, Topsfield was number 7 on a list of the top 20 communities with the highest rates of the disease.

"COVID-19 is a highly contagious virus and is very difficult to contain in close living quarters," Topsfield officials wrote. "What is happening at Masconomet Healthcare Center is happening in similar facilities all over the country."

The facility instituted a new "secure unit," to provide "exclusive care," for coronavirus patients, according to officials. Visitation restrictions remain in place and employees are screened each shift at the facility.

The Baker administration is pressing pause on part of its program to provide coronvirus tests at nursing homes.

New admissions will be required to follow a 14-day isolation protocol and be educated on proper social distancing and safety protocols. Residents will be largely limited to the confines of their rooms.

Friends and family have been able to communicate with the residents virtually, officials said, and staff are sharing messages sent to patients through the facility email,

Nursing homes and long-term care facilities have been central in the state's response to the coronavirus crisis. More than 1,205 people have died in nursing homes due to coronavirus-related illness, the latest data shows, making up a little more than half of the state's total 2,182 fatalities.

Earlier this week, Gov. Charlie Baker suspended shipments of testing kits to the facilities after about 10,000 were not returned to the state.

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