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Beaufort County nursing homes see COVID-19 spikes in deaths and cases

Published: Oct. 19, 2020 at 5:44 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON, N.C. (WITN) - The state’s Department of Health and Human Services says at least 25 congregate living settings in the East are reporting at least one COVID-19 death, and at least nine are reporting more than five deaths from the coronavirus.

Two nursing homes in Beaufort County are reporting among the highest in deaths.

Beaufort County Health Director James Madson breaks down some of those numbers.

“20 of our 36 deaths have been from residents in a long-term care facility," Madson said, "So, that makes up about 60 percent of our deaths.”

He continues, “Once the COVID virus gets into a facility like that, it really does seem to explode.”

And folks like Army veteran Malachi Bennett, 66, are just grateful to be able to live on their own.

“And I won’t have to worry about anyone taking care of me," Bennett said. "I’d rather be home than to be in these nursing homes.”

Last week, we told you about six residents who died from COVID-19 at Greendale Forest Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Greene County.

River Trace Nursing & Rehab Center in Washington has a total of at least 129 COVID-19 cases between residents and staff and 14 deaths, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

And reports show Ridgewood Living & Rehabilitation Center has had at least 123 COVID-19 cases including both staff and residents and 13 deaths.

Madson says those cases and deaths are over a period of five weeks.

“Many of the residents there are there because they can’t get the care they need elsewhere," Madson said.

He goes on, “It alarmed me when I saw the first case. And then, the following week, it really started to show higher numbers."

Bennett says living in a nursing home is a decision he hopes he never has to make. “The elder people should be protected more. It should be some kind of guidelines set by the government," said Bennett.

Madson says the health department is working on guidance, procedures, and supplying more PPE to these facilities to help stop the spread.

Madson says, “The people that work there are trying their very best to ensure that it’s as safe as possible.”

WITN reached out to all three facilities:

Ridgewood declined an on-camera interview. However, on the phone, the directors said, in part, they’re continuing to follow CDC guidelines to protect staff and residents.

River Trace and Greendale say they are screening visitors and staff, monitoring signs, have added 24-to-72-hour test results, hand sanitizer specifically for their company, 3D printing technology for PPE, 20,000 homemade gowns, supplied staff with masks, an isolation unit, disinfected, iPad visits for family, and are continuing to research new products and evaluate treatment, according to a representative.

Here is a portion of the statement from the representative for River Trace and Greendale:

The NCDHHS says they will update their report twice a week to include the names of the facilities with outbreaks and their cases.

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