New data shows at least one case of the virus across 85 long-term care facilities in Massachusetts

By Georgia Slater
April 03, 2020 02:43 PM
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Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty

Nursing homes and live-in facilities continue to be an area of concern amid the coronavirus pandemic as health experts warn that people 65 and older are more likely to have critical symptoms or die from the virus.

At one facility in Norwood, Massachusetts, at least 15 people have died of coronavirus or related complications, The Boston Globe reported Thursday.

In the last 12 days, seven residents at the Charlwell House Health & Rehabilitation Center who died tested positive for COVID-19; due to underlying conditions the virus was listed as the cause of death for only three residents, a co-owner of the facility told the outlet.

The other eight residents who died were not tested for the virus, according to Chris Roberts, the facility’s vice president of operations.

New statewide data also found there to be at least one case of the virus across 85 long-term care facilities (i.e. nursing homes, assisted living centers, rest homes) in Massachusetts, the Globe reported.

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“Frankly, if we hadn’t put the restrictions [on visitors] in place that we had, the situation probably would be worse,” Marylou Sudders, Massachusetts health and human services secretary, told the outlet.

“We are working hard to mitigate these clusters and keep residents and staff safe,” she added.

As of April 3, there have been 8,966 confirmed cases of the virus and 154 deaths in Massachusetts, according to a New York Times database.

This nursing home is the latest to experience a sweeping outbreak; last week at St. Joseph’s Senior Nursing Home in Woodbridge, New Jersey, all 94 residents were presumed to have the virus. And the very earliest outbreaks in Washington state at the beginning of the month were also at nursing homes, where residents’ age and close proximity puts them at high risk.

The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic in March and urged world leaders and citizens to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

The CDC recommends that the best prevention methods are simple forms of hygiene — careful hand washing, avoiding touching the face, moving away from people who are coughing or sneezing and staying home at signs of illness.

The United States as a whole continues to be significantly affected by coronavirus, with more than 6,257 people succumbing to the disease as of Friday morning, according to the Times. More than 240,000 have contracted the virus so far, the outlet reported.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.