COVID-19 - December 31, 2020

Published on December 31, 2020

December 31, 2020

Dear Friends,

I am so pleased that we can begin the New Year full of hope as the result of the COVID-19 vaccination clinics that will start with GHEC this Saturday, WAL on Monday and Independent Living next Friday. I am convinced that the vaccine will be an important step to help us get back to a more normal life.  Although this is good news, everyone must continue to exercise caution for the present time since the spread of the virus is more widespread than at any time during the past 10 months.  Continue to stay home except for essential needs, wear your mask covering your nose and mouth, maintain physical distance from others of at least 6 feet, practice good hand hygiene. We will continue with all measures enacted over the past several weeks that include visitor restrictions and suspension of housekeeping services.  In addition, we will be delaying the opening of the new dining venues for in person dining for the near future and slowly introduce take out options from the new Market+Craft.  We will be sharing more details regarding dining offerings in the coming weeks as the construction nears completion. 

We continue to contend with the COVID-19 outbreak in GEHC and thus far have had a total of 38 residents with the virus. I am sad to report that 15 residents have passed away since the beginning of the outbreak. Eight residents have been released from quarantine and continue to recover and a remaining 15 residents are still in quarantine and being closely monitored.  We are often asked if each of the residents that passed away was due to the virus.  In each situation these residents had underlying health concerns prior to getting the Covid 19 infection, and it is rare for a Covid 19 infection to be the primary cause of death. However, since it is unknown to what extent Covid 19 played in their passing, state and local authorities advise us to consider all these as “Covid Associated Deaths.”  The numbers reported are residents who have passed away after contracting the Covid 19 infection, regardless of the underlying issues they already had. We remember each resident as a friend and neighbor with their own unique contributions to the lives of their families and our Givens Community.  Please keep these residents and families in your prayers.

Similarly, we have had 44 GEHC team members total who have tested positive during this December outbreak. Happily, 35 of these have recovered and been released to return to work with several more expected to be cleared to return to work in the coming days. We have two employees who continue to struggle with their recovery, and we would appreciate your prayers for them, their families, and their coworkers.  

We continue to test residents and staff of GEHC and WAL weekly and pray that the number of individuals positive for the virus continues to decline with the goal of no new cases.

The number of reported daily cases locally and across our State continue to increase; the total number of hospitalizations locally and across the State have dramatically increased and are beginning to strain hospital resources; and the percent of tests that are positive for our State has increased to 13.5%.  In Buncombe County our test positivity rate has increased again to 9.3% over the past week.

Please remember the following measures:

  • To lower the risk of spread of the virus in our community please do not spend time in each other’s individual living spaces and limit your travel off campus to essential needs.
  • Visitors are not permitted until further notice and conditions improve.  Only authorized vendors such as delivery services, medical personnel, and caregivers will be allowed entry. Compassion visits with residents can be arranged by contacting a Social Worker. Packages from family and friends may be left at the main entrance for delivery by our staff to your home.
  • Housekeeping services are suspended until further notice when conditions improve 
  • Residents returning home from a hospital stay, Emergency Department visit, and from overnight travels must quarantine for 14 days upon returning home to Givens Estates. Please contact your Social Worker before leaving and upon returning to campus. Travel to a vacation home where there is no outside social interaction will probably not require self-quarantine upon return.
  • During a resident 14-day quarantine you must remain at home and not be in public spaces on campus. If you require support during your quarantine, please contact your social worker for assistance. In consultation with the Buncombe County Health Department, we will not be reducing the number days required for a quarantine.
  • If you are sick, being tested for COVID-19, have been in direct contact with someone being tested or think you have been exposed to someone infected with the virus, please stay home, follow up with your doctor, and notify Givens Estates (Social Worker or Campus Nurse) by telephone for specific directions regarding your situation. If you are sick or have been exposed to a person that has tested positive for COVID-19 we can perform a test for you in consultation with your personal physician.

Hope is on the horizon, but we must not let our guard down during the next 3-4 months as we work to get everyone vaccinated. Remember that the Independent Living resident vaccination clinic is on Friday, January 8th.  If this date does not work for some residents there will be another opportunity to receive the first vaccination during the February 5th clinic. We will provide more details about the logistics of the clinics on Monday once we have final numbers of residents wanting the vaccine.  I anticipate we will have two clinic locations-one in Oxford Commons and another in the Chapel in Asbury Commons to provide adequate space for physical distancing.

I hope everyone has a good New Year’s and wish for all of us a more peace filled and normal 2021.


John C. Cowan, Jr.

Executive Director