Coronavirus cases surge in NEPA nursing homes

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Multiple nursing homes in Northeast Pennsylvania have seen a rise in coronavirus cases

EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — The surge in coronavirus cases has not spared nursing homes which are now seeing the largest rise in cases since the spring, including several facilities in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

There have been 42,698 cases among residents and staff of nursing and personal care homes across the commonwealth at 1,279 distinct facilities in 65 counties. Residents of long term care facilities, 35,946 of which have tested positive, account for a majority of the deaths in the state with 6,507 fatalities from the virus.

At local nursing homes, it is a daily fight to lock out the virus.

In Wyoming County, The Gardens at Tunkhannock is inundated with cases of the virus. The latest data from the Pennsylvania Department of Health shows 91 residents have tested positive for coronavirus. 22 of those residents died. In addition, 52 staff members have tested positive.

Facilities in Luzerne County are also overwhelmed.

The Pavilion at St. Luke’s Village in Hazleton has had 72 cases among its 76 residents with 39 staff members also reportedly contracting the virus.

“I try to take Christmas cards and calendars over there for the patients if they can use them but we can only get to the door and nobody else allowed in really except the employees,” Bob Supowit, a neighbor of the home told Eyewitness News.

In Jenkins Township, 71 out of 157 residents have tested positive at the Partridge-Tippet Nursing Facility at United Methodist Homes Wesley Village Campus.

“Up until early November, we had been successful in keeping this virus out. Despite diligent adherence to infection control protocols and precautionary measures to prevent it, unfortunately, we experienced our very first outbreak in our nursing home this month,” a statement from the facility read in part.

Read the full statement below.

Five residents have died at the home and 32 staff members have tested positive.

At a press conference on Monday, Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine commented on the recent rise in COVID-19 related deaths inside of long term care facilities.

“We have seen some more deaths in long term care facilities but the percentage is less. So we are actually seeing more deaths outside long term care facilities than we saw in the spring,” Levine said.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, those 65 and older as well as residents in congregate care settings will be among the first to receive a COVID-19 vaccine when it is distributed.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to reflect that the 32 staff members at Partridge-Tippet Nursing Facility at United Methodist Homes Wesley Village Campus had tested positive for COVID-19.

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