Community Updates Week of 11/29/2021

Lorain County Positivity Rate on the Increase

Our county positivity rate continues to increase. This week, we are at 15.7% positivity, our highest rate since January 18, 2021, which was the week many on this campus received the second COVID vaccine dosage, but before the general public was getting vaccinated. The number of new cases per day in Lorain County is 184.7 this week. 

Recent Stephens Care Center Staff Case

This past weekend, we did have one fully vaccinated Kendal at Oberlin staff member test positive for COVID. This staff member works in the Stephens Care Center and does not provide hands on care. This staff member is now quarantining at home and will not return to work until released by Lorain County Public Health (LCPH).  Kendal at Oberlin is continuing COVID outbreak testing twice per week, testing all Stephens Care Center residents, Stephens Care Center staff members and other Kendal staff members that have routine contact with residents (Health and Wellness Clinic staff, Department Heads, Housekeepers, Waitstaff, Facility Services staff, Receptionists, et al) twice per week.  All Stephens Care Center residents and staff that tested this past Friday, tested negative for COVID. Our next testing cadence is tomorrow, Monday, November 29. Our testing and heightened surveillance will continue for the next 14 days.

There are no changes in Stephens Care Center visitation as a result of this positive finding. We do advise those that will be visiting the Stephens Care Center during this outbreak testing period that there is a risk of contracting COVID-19 and to remember these Core Principles of COVID-19 Infection Prevention:

  • Visitors who have a positive viral test for COVID-19, symptoms of COVID-19, or currently meet the criteria for quarantine, should not visit Kendal at Oberlin.
  • Kendal at Oberlin health screens all visitors to the Stephens Care Center.
  • Please practice frequent hand hygiene (use of alcohol-based hand rub is preferred) before, during and after your visit.
  • Kendal at Oberlin requires a medical grade mask be worn while visiting (covering mouth and nose), along with physical distancing of at least six feet between people in accordance with CDC guidance.  This includes wearing a mask while visiting in the resident’s room during this outbreak testing period.

COVID Reads

What to Know About the Omicron Variant of the Coronavirus

The Washington Post (free to all) A new variant of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 is raising concerns around the globe.

South Africa confirmed late last week that scientists there had detected a variant with a high number of mutations that could make it more transmissible and adept at evading the body’s immune defenses. The World Health Organization haslabeled it a “variant of concern” and have givenit a Greek letter designation: Omicron.

Omicron’s genetic profile is unique from other circulating variants, meaning it represents a new lineage of the virus.

It is distinct from other variants in another critical way: There’s a greater number of mutations. Tulio de Oliveira, director of the Center for Epidemic Response and Innovation in South Africa, said there are more than 30 mutations in the spike protein, the part of the virus that binds to human cells, allowing it to gain entry.  Scientists are worried that those mutations could make Omicron more transmissible and potentially equipped to defy immune defenses, making vaccines less effective. The WHO said last week that preliminary evidence suggests an “increased risk of reinfection” compared with other variants.

Jesse Bloom, a virologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, who has conducted mutational scanning experiments for the variant, noted that three mutations could make the virus a more elusive target for antibodies produced through vaccines or prior infection. “What that’s going to mean for how likely people are to get infected, even if they’ve been vaccinated, it’s too early to say…” Bloom said, noting that more traditional experiments should provide more data. “…but having a drop in the antibody neutralization is never a good thing.”

Linda Bauld, a professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, said there were “genuine” causes for concern, given that “it does look like a more transmissible variant…”, but she added: “I think it’s premature to panic. There’s just a lot we don’t know at the moment.”

Read more:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/11/26/faq-new-variant-omicron/

Covid Antivirals Could Be Pandemic Game Changers, but Americans Might Struggle To Access Them

Shared By Charles Klaveness

Antiviral drugs for treating Covid-19 have been hailed as a pandemic “game-changer” – a tool that could, perhaps, finally help life return to normal. However, basic gaps in the U.S. health system could mean that two new treatments from Pfizer and Merck won’t make much of a difference after all.

The companies’ treatments, which haven’t yet received emergency authorization, could make a Covid diagnosis dramatically less threatening. But in practice, before receiving the pills, patients may need to jump through a series of hoops that often prevent Americans from accessing care: Recognizing their symptoms, taking a test, getting a prescription from a clinician, and filling the prescription at a pharmacy.  “Our routine medical systems are not really set up for this,” said Céline Gounder, a physician and NYU professor who served on President Biden’s Covid advisory board in the months before his inauguration. “These are medications that need to be started within three days of developing symptoms. It can take you longer than three days to get an appointment.”

The skepticism surrounding the antivirals highlights the country’s continued lack of basic pandemic-response infrastructure, even 22 months after the country’s first recorded case of Covid-19. And it highlights, too, that despite profoundly successful partnerships between the U.S. government and major pharmaceutical companies, the country’s health system often fails to deliver lifesaving vaccines and medicines to those at highest risk.  To make matters worse, access to the antiviral drugs could potentially break down across typical lines of income and race, echoing the country’s initial struggle to vaccinate many of society’s most medically vulnerable, as well as historically marginalized communities.

FDA Says Merck Covid Pill Effective, Experts Will Review Safety

Federal health regulators say an experimental Covid-19 pill from Merck is effective against the virus, but they will seek input from outside experts on risks of birth defects and other potential problems during pregnancy.  The Food and Drug Administration posted its analysis of the pill ahead of a public meeting next week where academic and other experts will weigh in on its safety and effectiveness. The agency isn’t required to follow the group’s advice.

The FDA scientists said their review identified several potential risks, including possible toxicity and birth defects…Given the safety concerns, FDA said Merck agreed the drug would not be used in children.  Additionally, the FDA flagged a concern that Merck’s drug led to small changes in the coronavirus’ signature spike protein, which it uses to penetrate human cells. Theoretically, FDA cautioned, those changes could lead to dangerous new variants…FDA will ask its independent advisers to discuss all those issues and then vote on whether the drug’s overall benefits outweigh its risks.

Coming Soon!  Entry Through the Stephens Care Center During Inclement Weather

We have ordered Self-Health Screen Kiosks that will be installed at the Patterson North Entrance and the Pool/Fitness Center Entrance to the Stephens Care Center. They will be installed within the next two-three weeks.  This will allow for residents on the west side of campus to enter and exit the community building through the Stephens Care Center.  The procedure will be similar to the instructions previously provided on SCC Visitation.  Those entering the SCC for this purpose will need to self-health screen daily before entering.  One health screen per day will be sufficient.  The sticker received after the health screen will need to be worn at all times while in the SCC.

We look forward to announcing when these devices are installed at other entrances to the SCC.   This is a significant step to reclaiming a founding value of our community, intentionally connecting our Independent Living residents to our Stephens Care Center residents.  This has always been vital to who we are.  Once this is in place, please take time when in the Stephens Care Center to say “hello” to your SCC friends!

Updated Travel and Return to Kendal Guidelines

December will be a month of sharing gatherings and celebrations.  We remind all Kendal residents to assess individual situations when making plans away from Kendal.  Please consider the vaccination status of those attending your shared gatherings, your mode of travel, overnight stays and level of outbreak where traveling. https://www.cdc.gov/TemplatePackage/contrib/widgets/covidcountycheck/

Every situation is different.  Lorain County remains at a HIGH level of transmission according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The CDC ranks the levels of transmission (from lowest to highest) as LOW, MODERATE, SUBSTANTIAL and HIGH.  Being with fully vaccinated individuals who have also received the booster with a one night overnight stay and no public transportation travel poses a very low risk while being with a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals with a multi-night stay away and air travel poses a substantially higher risk. 

Kendal urges each Kendalite to discern their unique plans when away from Kendal.  If plans pose a modest or greater risk, we ask that a 4-day “lay low” period be observed after return to Kendal.  This means refraining from gathering with other Kendalites for 4 days and enter Heiser only to pick up mail and meals with no visiting with others in the Heiser Center.  You may call Dining Services in advance at 440-775-9801 and inform them that you need your meal packed and ready to go, and they will tell you when it will be ready. 

We are no longer requiring Covid testing after a 4-day “lay low” period. However, for peace of mind after your 4-day “lay low” period, you may call the Health and Wellness Clinic at 440-775-9819 and request one.

In all instances, after a shared gathering, please monitor for Covid symptoms for 14 days and report the on-set of any symptoms of Covid, or any infection or disease, to the Health and Wellness Clinic.  Please stay away from others if any symptoms present themselves until you have been seen by a health care provider and have received further instructions.

Articles

From Don Parker

Breakthrough Covid-19 Raises Risk of Health Problems, Death

MDEdge posted a Reuters report of a study published online by Nature Research Square (pre-print release) that demonstrated the risk of long Covid and death from breakthrough cases of Covid in vaccinated individuals.  (This study was probably done before booster doses were available).  Here is the Reuters report in full:

When will the Pandemic Be Over?

Medscape featured an interview with William Shaffner, MD, a well-respected epidemiologist, on how will we know when the pandemic is over.

Join a Messiah Sing-Along in Heiser

The Oberlin Conservatory is once again hosting a community-wide Messiah Sing-Along in Finney Chapel. Protocols will be in place there, but to reduce the risk of contact with unknown, perhaps unvaccinated, people, we are organizing a parallel sing-along in the Heiser Auditorium for Kendal residents and staff.

The Finney Sing-Along will be live-streamed at concert time, and we will project the event on our large screen — on Sunday, December 12, from 7-9 pm.  Kendalites who wish to sing along will be in our Auditorium front rows, 6-feet apart, wearing masks. Audience members will sit further back.

Professor Peter Slowik, conductor for the Finney event, has graciously offered to assist Kendal in planning this parallel sing-along, including links to practice videos for voice parts and access to scores.

This experiment in parallel singing is intended to be enjoyable and flexible. Sing a little, sing a lot, hum, or just listen. If you’re interested in singing along, sign up by the open mailboxes.  For further information, contact Anne Martin (avmartin@syr.edu) or Anne Palmer (acpalmer1904@gmail.com).

KORA Coffee Cafe in the Fox and Fell, 8-11 a.m., Monday through Saturday.

Come enjoy a cup of brewed coffee, brewed decaf, tea or cocoa and some great conversation with residents!

Monthly Coffee Hour- Wed., Dec. 8.

We’ll repeat this monthly Coffee Hour in the Fox and Fell as well as on ZOOM. Hearing the conversation was not always clear for our Zoom participants at our November Coffee Hour, but we’ll continue to make refinements and use of microphones. We will resume our “tradition” of the December Coffee Hour offering some tasty pastries along with your coffee/tea. I hope you are beginning to feel the holiday spirit. The holiday lights are now brightly lit around Heiser.

A Courtesy Reminder about Soliciting at Kendal 

Oberlin has wonderful nonprofits and grassroot initiatives for excellent causes. Residents are free to support any of them at their personal choosing.  At this time of year there are many appeals, and you may be asked to request support from your Kendal friends. It’s important that the inhouse mailboxes not be misused for this purpose. Recently, we have had some long standing as well as newer residents surprised at getting solicitations. They have asked “What’s the policy?”.  Kendal adopted a solicitation policy early after opening that any solicitation put in a resident’s mailbox must be approached with a personal note, restricted to friends who you believe have an interest in a specific organization or initiative. Residents are not permitted to mass produce an appeal request and stuff the boxes.  PLEASE, keep it to your closest friends who you know are interested in your charity or initiative.

Today’s Statistics

Kendal at Oberlin (KaO)

Independent Living Resident Cases  2
Stephens Care Center (SCC) Resident Cases  
          Residential Care Facility  7
          Skilled Nursing Facility  2
KaO Residents Total 11
     KaO SCC Staff Cases  22
     KaO Other Staff Cases  27
KaO Staff Total 49
Kendal at Oberlin COVID Total 60
**Current Isolation, COVID Positive 0
**Total COVID Beyond Isolation 57
Kendal at Oberlin Vaccination Overall536 of 540 or 99.3%
Total Kendal Residents Vaccinated337 of 337 or 100%
Total Kendal Staff Vaccinated (those unvaccinated have Medical or Religious Exemption)199 of 203 or 98%

Lorain County (as posted 11/22/2021)

New Cases (since Monday, November 22, 2021 – 7-day average 184.7 per day) 1,293
Total Probable and Confirmed Lorain County Cases 41,058
Total in Zip Code 44074 (+28 since Monday, November 15, 2021) 938
Current Lorain County Positivity Rate (HIGH Transmission Rate) 15.7%
Total Deaths, age ranges 20-29 • 1; 30-39 • 4; 40-49 • 15; 50-59 • 34; 60-69 • 101; 70-79 • 168; 80+ • 254 577
Total Deaths in Long Term Care Settings, posted 11/24/2021, +2 255
Lorain County Vaccinations Started190,928 or 61.6% of population

Cuyahoga County (as posted 11/29/2021)

Cuyahoga County (excluding Cleveland)          114,599
Cleveland Cases 47,729
Total Cuyahoga County Cases 162,328
New Cases 4,351
Total Cuyahoga County Deaths 2,778
Total Deaths in Long Term Care Settings, posted 11/24/2021 891

State of Ohio (as posted 11/29/2021)

New Cases in the Last 24-hours  5,731
21-day Average of New Cases 5,150
Total Cases 1,683,472
Age Range all Cases
Median Age of all Cases 39
Total Hospitalizations (cumulative) 85,992 5%
Total Hospitalizations Last 24-hours 298
21-day Average of Hospitalizations 229
Median Age of all Hospitalized 65
Total ICU Admissions (cumulative) 10,724 or 1%
Total ICU Admissions last 24-hours 29
21-day Average of ICU Admissions 21
Total Health Care Workers Diagnosed 81,609 5%
Total Tested in Ohio 18,093,697
Total Ohio Resident Deaths 26,483
Median Age of Deaths 78
Ohio Resident Deaths in Last 24-hours 0
21-day Average of Deaths 67
Total Deaths in Ohio Long Term Care Settings (Updated Weekly. posted 11/24/2021) 8,104
Statewide Vaccinations Started 6,749,734 or 57.7% of population

Contact Information


If you have any questions or concerns,  please contact Stacy Terrell, Chief Health Services Officer, at 440-775-9811