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COVID-19 Takes Over Nursing Homes Across the U.S. and 42 Oklahoma Care Facilities

Posted at 9:50 PM, Apr 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-21 23:20:37-04

SALLISAW, Okla. — Controlling COVID-19 can be especially difficult inside care facilities like nursing homes. The virus has invaded long-term care facilities and nursing homes across the country, including 42 of Oklahoma's care homes.

Marci Warren, a nurse at Sequoyah Manor, (an assisted living facility in Sallisaw, Okla.) feels like she is working under a lock-down.

Warren said, “Everybody’s isolated. Empty halls, empty dining room.”

Sequoyah Manor’s residents now eat in their rooms. Staff rely on gloves and donated face masks to stay safe.

“This is all we have,” said Warren. “We wash these masks at the end of each day.”

Signs of fever are also checked.

“We are getting our temperatures taken at least three times a shift,” Warren said.

Those age 65 and over make up the majority of Oklahoma's COVID cases - 32%.

Becky Randolph visits her 90-year-old mother at Sequoyah Manor every day.

“If my mother was to get this virus, she would not survive this virus,” Randolph said.

A window now divides Randolph and her mother because visitors are restricted from entering the facility.

Randolph said, “She’ll motion for me to come in, that’s the worst part.”

564 of Oklahoma's coronavirus cases come from long-term care facilities or nursing homes. The most are in Cleveland County: 121 cases and 14 deaths.

Cases at the Bartlesville Health and Rehab Community make up five deaths and 54 of Washington County’s 59 coronavirus cases associated with long-term care facilities or nursing homes. Staff with BHRB say many of those who tested positive did not show symptoms.

There are close to 16,000 nursing homes, across the U.S., which total 1.3 million people.

The CDC reports, 2,363 people in nursing homes or long-term care facilities in the U.S. died of the coronavirus since February.

Announced Sunday during a White House COVID-19 briefing, nursing homes and senior care facilities will soon be required to notify patients, their families and health officials if someone in the facility tests positive for the coronavirus. The Administrator of Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Seema Verma, said they will soon provide nursing homes with information on how to report such information to the CDC.

Prior to the directive, direct reporting to the CDC was optional.

In addition, Verma said, new rules will require nursing homes to notify all of its patients and employees within 12 hours of when an infectious disease is reported in the building. Facilities will also be required to provide weekly updates on the situation, or whenever three or more cases of infection are reported within three days of each other.

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