‘Becoming more rampant.’ Multiple employees test positive for COVID-19 at Atrium Health Pineville

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PINEVILLE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – Multiple employees, some vaccinated and others unvaccinated, have tested positive for COVID-19 at Atrium Health Pineville, health officials announced on Thursday.

According to the NC Department of Health and Human Services, 50 cases have been identified in health care workers, 35 of whom were vaccinated. So far, 9 patients have tested positive. Thirty-three positive test specimens have been sequenced so far by the State Laboratory of Public Health, all of which have been confirmed to be the Delta variant of COVID-19. 

“Additional testing, sequencing, and case investigation is underway. The state intends to report findings once the investigation is final,” NCDHHS said in a written statement.

“We wanted to let you know, that despite all of the precautions and policies we’ve put in place to keep the virus out of our facilities, the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 is becoming more rampant,” Atrium Health said. “We are researching positive COVID-19 tests among some of our teammates.”

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Atrium Health said they are currently engaged in contact tracing and testing of any impacted employees and patients in order to identify those needing care and to control the potential for further spread.

“Out of an abundance of caution, and with concern for the privacy of each individual, we have reached out directly to teammates and patients who were in the affected area to let them know that they could have come into contact with a COVID-positive person,” Atrium Health said. “We believe their risk of contracting COVID is low, given the proper use of personal protective equipment.”


COVID hot spots: These are the areas in Mecklenburg County seeing the biggest surge in cases

Atrium Health Q&A released Thursday evening:

What’s this about a “cluster” at one of Atrium Health’s hospitals?

As we are all experiencing right now, there has been a very, very significant increase in the number of COVID cases that we are seeing, in our community, in our clinics, in our hospital settings.

This is due to the spread of the Delta variant, which we are seeing play out and is much more easily spread from individuals than prior versions of COVID.

With that, whether you’re at home, at work, at the hospital, there is potential for people get infected. And it’s so, so important for us as a community, us in health care, to do everything we can to help prevent that spread.

That means getting vaccinated, encouraging your friends to get vaccinated, and ensuring that we’re wearing masks when we’re with individuals outside of our household.

Medical Director for Infection Prevention Katie Passaretti

Among the teammates in this group, some of them were vaccinated, some were not, How does that happen? Isn’t the vaccine supposed to protect you from getting this?

Yes, so no vaccine is 100% perfect and I want to re-state that because it is so important to hear right now with the increased cases in the community, and with this Delta variant that spreads more easily between individuals, we are going to continue to see vaccinated individuals with mild cases of COVID.

That does not mean that the vaccine does not work, the vaccine still 1) protects individuals…you’re less likely to get a mild infection if you’ve been vaccinated, and what it continues to be exquisitely good at is preventing COVID-related hospitalization and death.

Place after place, time after time, we know that over 95 percent of our hospitalizations and COVID deaths continue to be unvaccinated individuals.

The best way we can protect ourselves from being in this situation moving forward is getting everyone vaccinated, prevent the development of even scarier variants in the future.

Medical Director for Infection Prevention Katie Passaretti

As a reminder of COVID-19 safe behaviors:

Get vaccinated as it remains the best way to protect yourself, your family, and our community

Don’t work when you are sick or have symptoms of illness, even if you think it’s allergies

Wear the required masks, eye protection and other personal protective equipment appropriately
Practice proper hand hygiene

Stay at least 6-feet apart, especially in teammate lounge areas when taking meal and drink breaks

“The Delta variant is nearly twice as contagious as previous variants and practicing our COVID-safe behaviors are more important than ever,” Atrium Health said. “More than 95% of people hospitalized or who died from COVID in recent weeks were unvaccinated.”

Full statement from NCDHHS released on Thursday:

Atrium Health, with support from NCDHHS and the Mecklenburg County Health Department, is investigating a cluster of COVID-19 cases at Atrium Health Pineville. Atrium Health took immediate action and reached out to partner as part of their robust infection control protocols. This collaborative effort includes testing staff, patients, and household members of those who have tested positive for COVID-19, as well as understanding the development of symptoms and how the disease is spreading in this event. 

A thorough investigation is ongoing, numbers are subject to change and the degree to which positive cases are attributed to this outbreak versus community transmission is still unknown. So far, 50 cases have been identified in health care workers, 35 of whom were vaccinated. So far, 9 patients have tested positive. Thirty-three positive test specimens have been sequenced so far by the State Laboratory of Public Health – all of which have been confirmed to be the Delta variant of COVID-19. 

Additional testing, sequencing, and case investigation is underway. The state intends to report findings once the investigation is final.

The highly contagious Delta variant is spreading rapidly in North Carolina – particularly among those that are unvaccinated. COVID-19 cases have increased by more than 50% in the past seven days, hospitalizations have more than doubled over the past two weeks and the number of people going to the emergency department with COVID-like symptoms is rising. 

We encourage all unvaccinated North Carolinians to get vaccinated as quickly as possible to reduce opportunities for COVID-19 to spread.  COVID-19 vaccines provide strong protection against serious illness, hospitalization and death.  We need to layer up our protection to fight this more contagious Delta variant and weather the storm: Vax up, Mask up and urge others to do the same.  Don’t wait to vaccinate. Visit MySpot.nc.gov or call 1-888-675-4567 to find a vaccine location near you.

NC Department of Health and Human Services

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