OLEAN — A third healthcare worker at the Pines Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Olean has tested positive for COVID-19.

That brings the number of COVID-19 positive Cattaraugus County residents to 63. Three have died, 41 have recovered and there are 18 active cases.

Three healthcare workers at the Machias Pines tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday last week after Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered the testing of all nursing home and senior living facilities employees.

The positive tests of the nursing home employees, who were all asymptomatic, or without COVID-19 symptoms, set off rounds of testing for more than 200 residents of the nursing homes.

Residents at the Machias Pines and some at the Olean Pines have already been tested, according to Kelly Reed, acting nursing homes administrator. None of the results received so far for residents tests have been positive None of the residents of either nursing home are showing COVID-19 symptoms.

Machias residents were tested on Friday and Saturday. Of 90 residents tested, the first 67 results were all negative, Reed said.

“None of the residents tested show positive results to date, and we are hopeful, based on our diligent use of PPE and infection control practices, that this will continue,” Reed said. “Results received from this new round of testing will be reported to the residents and responsible parties as soon as we receive them.”

Nursing home residents who were in close or direct contact with an employee who tested positive will be isolated in their rooms, Reed said. Employees who have contact with them will wear additional personal protective equipment.

The Tuesday morning results for the Olean Pines employees showed one positive, who was only described as a healthcare worker, Reed said. Previously, a licensed practical nurse and an activities employee tested positive for COVID-19 at the Olean Pines.

Those employees testing positive were ordered quarantined in their homes with their families, said Dr. Kevin Watkins, public health director. Contact tracing has begun in the nursing home and in the community.

One thing that may have prevented the spread of the coronavirus to residents is that employees have been wearing masks for more than two months, Watkins said. The nursing homes were also early in prohibiting visitors from entering the nursing homes.

Testing of Olean Pines residents began on Monday, Reed said. The tests were continuing on Tuesday.

“Plans are also in place to isolate residents who may receive a positive test result to avoid the spread of infection,” she said.

Pines employees at Machias were first tested on May 18, and Olean Pines employees on May 20. The test results can take two to five days to be returned.

Last week, all nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the state were directed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to begin testing employees twice a week.

Cattaraugus County Legislature Finance Committee Chairman Andrew Burr, R-Gowanda, complained last week about the $75,000 a week cost of testing to the county.

Six days later, the testing has found a half dozen county nursing home employees test positive for COVID-19.

Reed said families and staff members were notified of the COVID-19 test results.

The testing of residents who consent to the tests was called “a precautionary measure,” by Reed, who said none of the residents of either nursing home was symptomatic.

Reed said, like Machias, the Olean Pines “will continue to test all employees twice weekly as directed by the Executive Order issued by Gov.ernor Cuomo. Plans are also in place to isolate residents who may receive a positive test result to avoid the spread of infection.” Plans are in place to accommodate staffing needs if additional positive results are reported.

Window visits at both nursing homes have been halted for at least 14 days, according to Reed.

Watkins urged county residents to continue to stay at home if they can, particularly older residents and those with underlying health conditions. For those who must go out, he said, “Please use a face covering and wash your hands frequently.”

(Contact reporter Rick Miller at rmiller@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)

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