COVID-19 outbreak cited at Givens Highlands Farms retirement community

Ty Roush
Black Mountain News
Givens Highland Farms is listed by the NCDHHS as having a COVID-19 outbreak.

BLACK MOUNTAIN - Black Mountain-based Givens Highland Farms is listed as having an ongoing COVID-19 outbreak by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, according to a Nov. 3 report.

The retirement community currently has 35 cases and four deaths.

Black Mountain Neuro-Medical Treatment Center is also on the outbreak list with 88 cases and six deaths. Black Mountain Center was previously listed as having 52 cases and five deaths in a Sept. 8 report.

Of the listed Highland Farms cases, 13 are among staff and 22 are among residents. All four deaths are attributed to residents.

Buncombe County has 4,443 total cases and 109 deaths. The county recognizes its death total as a correlation to cases in long-term care facilities like Black Mountain Center.

The Black Mountain ZIP code is listed as having 218 total cases and 12 deaths. Montreat’s ZIP code is listed as having zero cases and deaths despite Montreat College reporting cases throughout the fall semester.

Cases involving students — or anyone — from other counties or states are attributed to that person's home county.

Montreat mayor Tim Helms added that the town has experienced cases that have not been reported accurately by the NCDHHS.

Highland Farms was founded in 1971 “as a solution for older adults who wish to live in an independent lifestyle with the assurance of future care,” according to its website. Black Mountain Center, one of three skilled nursing facilities operated by the state, focused on the long-term care of patients with neurodegenerative disorders, like dementia or Alzheimer’s, and serves 45 North Carolina counties.

The NCDHHS report, updated each Tuesday and Friday, lists the number of cases and deaths throughout congregated living settings in the state. An outbreak is defined by the department as two or more laboratory-confirmed cases.

The report lists cases and deaths for nursing homes, residential care facilities, correctional facilities and “other.” Other is listed as a cumulative recording for homeless shelters and migrant worker housing. Any facility with less than 10 residents is not included in the state report.

An “outbreak” is considered “over” if there is no evidence of continued transmission 28 days after the last symptomatic person is recorded. The outbreak will not reopen if another case is detected after the outbreak is closed.

Mountain Health Ridge and Rehab, listed in the Sept. 8 report with 13 staff cases, 33 resident cases and five resident deaths, had its outbreak closed.

Local health departments record virus cases and outbreak investigations before then entering the data into the N.C. Electronic Disease Surveillance System.