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Reports: 40% of Georgia’s COVID-19 deaths were residents in long-term care facilities

Nursing homes across the country are hot spots for COVID-19 cases and deaths. Now, the government wants to track how many nursing home residents are sick and dying and where. (Source: AP)
Nursing homes across the country are hot spots for COVID-19 cases and deaths. Now, the government wants to track how many nursing home residents are sick and dying and where. (Source: AP)(GRAYDC)
Published: Apr. 24, 2020 at 11:18 AM CDT
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Four in 10 Georgians who have died due to COVID-19 have died in long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, according to data from the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) and the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH).

At 7 p.m. Thursday, April 23, DCH reported 2,397 COVID-19 cases in long-term care facilities in Georgia, which is about 10.95 percent of the 21,883 total cases reported in Georgia by DPH at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 23.

DCH reported 358 deaths of residents in Georgia long-term care facilities as of 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 23, which represents 40.62 percent of the total COVID-19 deaths in Georgia, which stood at 881 Thursday at 7 p.m., according to DPH.

"It's an awful statistic," said Kenneth Lowery, district epidemiologist for the South Health District. "We don't want deaths in any part of our community."

In some long-term care facilities, the number of cases and deaths continues to grow. Lowery said that is partly because more testing is being done.

"The nice thing about identifying those cases is now we know there's an issue," he explained. "We can address it, and then we can do what we can to make sure we mitigate that problem within the facility."

As of Thursday, PruittHealth Palmyra nursing home in Albany had one of the highest numbers of cases among these facilities in South Georgia.

The facility also has one of the highest numbers of residents in the state. DCH reported that the nursing home has had 113 residents with COVID-19 with 19 resident deaths as of Thursday night.

In some counties with smaller populations, the cases in the nursing homes make up a good portion of the total cases.

"The numbers will increase the more we test, but at least we're identifying where the issue is," Lowery said.

In Turner County, DPH reported 61 total cases as of Thursday night. Thursday, DCH reported 35 cases at the PruittHealth Ashburn nursing home.

According to these reports, the cases at the nursing home make up more than half the county’s cases.

In Randolph County, out of 149 cases total reported by DPH Thursday, 55 happened at Joe-Anne Burgin Nursing Home in Cuthbert.

According to these reports, the cases at that facility make up more than one-third of Randolph County’s total cases.

Staff members haven’t been immune to the virus either. At Pruitt Health Palmyra, 47 staff members had tested positive as of Thursday night, according to DCH.

24 staff members have tested positive at both Joe-Anne Burgin Nursing Home and at Dawson Health and Rehab in Terrell County, as of Thursday night.

Health officials said they are trying to test as many people as possible in these facilities, including those without symptoms, all in hopes of keeping the virus from spreading even more among such a vulnerable part of the population.

“If the facilities are screening their employees, visitors, whomever’s coming in the building, and they don’t have any symptoms and we haven’t tested and identified them as a positive, then we have no idea that they’re bringing it in,” Lowery said.

DCH's long-term care facility report Thursday night showed that at least 15 long-term care facilities in Southwest Georgia have had more than 10 residents test positive for COVID-19:

Camellia Gardens of Life Care (Nursing Home; Thomasville-Thomas County):

- Total residents: 52

- Total residents with COVID-19: 14

- Total resident deaths due to COVID-19: 5

- Total staff members with COVID-19: 14

Charter Senior Living at Southern Pines (Personal Care Home; Thomasville-Thomas County):

- Total residents: 92

- Total residents with COVID-19: 19

- Total resident deaths due to COVID-19: 0

- Total staff members with COVID-19: 0

Crossview Care Center (Nursing Home; Pineview-Wilcox County):

- Total residents: 66

- Total residents with COVID-19: 34

- Total resident deaths due to COVID-19: 5

- Total staff members with COVID-19: 5

Dawson Health and Rehabilitation (Nursing Home; Dawson-Terrell County):

- Total residents: 48

- Total residents with COVID-19: 41

- Total resident deaths due to COVID-19: 13

- Total staff members with COVID-19: 24

Early Memorial Nursing Facility (Nursing Home; Blakely-Early County):

- Total residents: 79

- Total residents with COVID-19: 38

- Total resident deaths due to COVID-19: 10

- Total staff members with COVID-19: 20

Fellowship Home at Brookside (Personal Care Home; Valdosta):

- Total residents: 100

- Total residents with COVID-19: 15

- Total resident deaths due to COVID-19: 6

- Total staff members with COVID-19: 3

Joe-Anne Burgin Nursing Home (Cuthbert-Randolph County):

- Total residents: 41

- Total residents with COVID-19: 55

- Total resident deaths due to COVID-19: 14

- Total staff members with COVID-19: 24

Magnolia Manor Methodist NSG C (Nursing Home; Americus-Sumter County):

- Total residents: 145

- Total residents with COVID-19: 15

- Total resident deaths due to COVID-19: 3

- Total staff members with COVID-19: 17

Pelham Parkway Nursing Home (Pelham-Mitchell County):

- Total residents: 90

- Total residents with COVID-19: 39

- Total resident deaths due to COVID-19: 11

- Total staff members with COVID-19: 16

Perfect Care (Personal Care Home; Americus-Sumter County):

- Total residents: 30

- Total residents with COVID-19: 17

- Total resident deaths due to COVID-19: 5

- Total staff members with COVID-19: 0

Pioneer Health of Central Georgia (Nursing Home; Byromville-Dooly County):

- Total residents: 53

- Total residents with COVID-19: 14

- Total resident deaths due to COVID-19: 6

- Total staff members with COVID-19: 9

PruittHealth Ashburn (Nursing Home; Ashburn-Turner County):

- Total residents: 51

- Total residents with COVID-19: 35

- Total resident deaths due to COVID-19: 8

- Total staff members with COVID-19: 14

PruittHealth Palmyra (Nursing Home; Albany-Dougherty County):

- Total residents: 164

- Total residents with COVID-19: 113

- Total resident deaths due to COVID-19: 19

- Total staff members with COVID-19: 47

PruittHealth Sylvester (Nursing Home; Sylvester-Worth County):

- Total residents: 98

- Total residents with COVID-19: 30

- Total resident deaths due to COVID-19: 3

- Total staff members with COVID-19: 3

Wynfield Park Health and Rehabilitation (Nursing Home; Albany-Dougherty County):

- Total residents: 138

- Total residents with COVID-19: 59

- Total resident deaths due to COVID-19: 14

- Total staff members with COVID-19: 20

There are some facilities in Georgia that have had zero coronavirus cases thus far, as well.

To view the most recent numbers for long-term care facilities in Georgia,

.

To view the most recent numbers of cases and deaths overall in Georgia,

.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), announced Sunday that nursing homes will soon be required to inform residents, their families and their representatives about COVID-19 cases in their facilities.

CMS will also soon require that nursing homes report their COVID-19 cases directly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Nursing homes have been ground zero for COVID-19,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “Nursing home reporting to the CDC is a critical component of the go-forward national COVID-19 surveillance system and to efforts to reopen America.”

Copyright 2020 WALB. All rights reserved.

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