Covid-19 update: 11 die at long-term care facilities; 55 residents, 22 staff test positive for coronavirus, other test results pending

The above video on how to properly wear a mask is from Sarasota Memorial Hospital nurse Jennifer Sorensen, via the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Kentucky Health News

Eleven people have died of covid-19 in long-term care facilities in Kentucky, several of them in the last day or so, Gov. Andy Beshear said Tuesday.

“These numbers have increased significantly even from yesterday,” Beshear said at his daily briefing, adding that the state is working with health departments to make the numbers “as accurate as possible.”

The day before, citing data from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, the Louisville Courier Journal reported that there had been three deaths in nursing homes. Beshear spokeswoman Crystal Staley said Tuesday night that one death was in an assisted-living facility.

Beshear said 55 residents and 22 staff members, in 21 facilities, had tested positive for the coronavirus, and another 55 tests of residents and 41 tests of staffers are pending.

“This is a concern,” Beshear said. “We’ve got to make sure we prevent the coronavirus from getting in as many of these facilities as possible, and that we react quickly.”

He said the state has been encouraging the use of masks, eliminated congregate activities such as meals in dining rooms, suspended inspections and banned visitors except in end-of-life situations. The government is also “encouraging facilities to move sick residents away from those who have not been infected,” the Courier Journal reported.

The newspaper said that as of Sunday evening, positive or potential cases had been reported at Signature Healthcare at Summit Manor in Columbia; The Heritage in Whitley County; Coldspring in Campbell County; Madonna Manorin Villa Hills, Rosedale Greenin Kenton County; Countryside Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Bardwell; Henderson Nursing and RehabRidgewood Terrace in Henderson; Country Place in Hopkins County; River’s Bend Retirement Community in Kuttawa, Parkview Nursing and Rehab in Paducah; Park Terrace in Lexington; Treyton Oak Towers in Louisville, and Masonic Home Louisville.

Beshear also voiced concern about the Green River Correctional Complex in Central City and Western State Hospital in Hopkinsville. At the prison, nine inmates and five staffers have tested positive; at the hospital, nine patients and four staff have. “I know the staff in all of these facilities are scared,” Beshear said, adding that the state appreciates their willingness to work.

“The hospital has stopped accepting new patients and is encouraging all current residents to wear masks,” the Courier Journal reports.

The governor said he expects to announce new measures Wednesday to enforce his order banning mass gatherings, and said in response to a question that about two dozen churches were still having regular inside services despite his order., but some have decided to cancel services.

“Where people are intentionally putting people in harm’s way, we’re gonna start taking action,” Beshear said, adding later, “My faith is one of the things that compels me to do that; my faith tells me that we protect one another.” He thanked “faith leaders” who are cooperating and asked them to “please spread the encouragement.”

Here’s other covid-19 news in Kentucky:

  • Beshear reported seven deaths, many of which appeared to be at long-term-care facilities. He said a death reported yesterday in Louisville was of an Indiana resident, so the new total is 65. The deaths were four men in Jefferson County, aged 42, 60, 70 and 85; two women from Lyon County, 72 and 94; and an 83-year-old woman in Adair County.
  • The governor reported 147 new covid-19 cases, the most in one day, but said some were probably delayed from Sunday and Monday. He said the three-day average of about 80 was less than the previous three days, and “I’m not sure many places in America can say that right now.” The total number of officially recorded cases is 1,149.
  • The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department released the first demographic information on cases in the city, and it revealed that African Americans were much more likely to be hospitalized for covid-19. They accounted for 52 percent of hospitalizations for the disease, while whites were only 32%, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports. The virus “appears to be infecting and killing black Americans at a disproportionately high rate,” The Washington Post reports. “Counties that are majority-black have three times the rate of infections and almost six times the rate of deaths as counties where white residents are in the majority.” The state is still compiling data for a report.
  • Of the 170 covid-19 cases found in Lexington through Monday, 17 have been at the Miles Point school-bus garage, local Health Commissioner Kraig Humbaugh said. That illustrates the difficulty in thwarting the coronavirus, he said: “Persons with relatively mild illness or perhaps no symptoms at all can unknowingly spread the virus to others who are at higher risk of severe illness and complications.” One employee has died and others have been hospitalized, the Herald-Leader reports.
  • Beshear continued to voice his frustration at the lack of personal protective equipment. “We are trying everything,” he said. “Virtually nobody has orders that are coming in, and it’s concerning. . . . It’s the wild West right now.” He said the state is getting shorted partly because “We are doing a better job flattening our curve … but my job is to fight for as much of it as we can get. Many days I feel like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football.”
  • A nurse at Norton Women’s and Children’s Hospital said she was suspended for insubordination for refusing to treat covid-19 patients when the hospital would not supply her with a protective respirator, the Courier Journal reports. “She said in an interview Monday that supervisors would only give her a surgical mask, a loose-fitting disposable device that isn’t sealed around the nose and mouth.” Norton Healthcare said it follows guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which last month said N95 respirator masks should be reserved for the riskiest situations, “such as intubations and respiratory treatments, and that looser-fitting surgical masks be used for routine care,” the CJ reports. “Nursing unions strongly opposed the relaxed guidelines.”
  • Health Commissioner Steven Stack, asked what he thought of the anti-malaria medications President Trump has promoted as treatments for covid-19, said “All of these things are experimental,” without the scientific confidence needed to recommend them. “Those things have not yet been proven to be beneficial.”
  • Stack said the state’s arrangement with Northern Kentucky lab Gravity Diagnostics to provide up to 2,000 daily virus tests will be done through 32 hospitals. The tests will initially be limited to high-risk people, health-care workers and first responders; if supplies meet demand, people with chronic medical problems will qualify, he said, with the hospitals making the decisions. “I support the hospitals in their decision-making,” he said.
  • Stack said may types of tests are available, and he cautioned against getting tested without the involvement of a “properly qualified health-care professional who understand what those tests are useful for.”
  • Beshear said the state’s pilot drive-through testing facility in Frankfort is “on pause” because of a shortage of supplies.
  • Walgreens said it will put drive-through virus-testing sites in Kentucky and six other states for people who meet CDC criteria. “It is not clear how many of those 15 sites will be in Kentucky,” the Courier Journal says, but the sites “are planned for places with escalating rates of covid-19 cases, according to a news release. The sites will be activated later this week and, in total, will test 3,000 people per day.”
  • David Pittman
  • “A Southern Kentucky man is getting considerable attention for a somber video he posted minutes after the decision to end life support for his father,” David Pitman, Bill Estep reports for the Herald-Leader. “Dustin Pitman went on Facebook live early on April 2 to describe how his father, David Pitman, quickly deteriorated because of the covid-19 respiratory illness. David Pitman, 62, had survived colon cancer, but the illness caused by the coronavirus overwhelmed him. Doctors gave him little chance of survival, Dustin Pitman said.”
  • Florence Mayor Diane Whalen “has told a hotel that it could not rent rooms to more than 40 homeless people because it was a public health hazard and a possible zoning violation,” Beth Musgrave of the Herald-Leader reports in a detailed story.
  • Barbourville Mayor David Thompson “and half of the city’s police officers have been ordered to quarantine after they were exposed to the coronavirus” through a department employee, the Herald-Leader reports, citing the assistant police chief. “None of the officers nor the mayor have shown any symptoms of coronavirus . . . The department has 11 officers.”
  • A Louisville physician has been placed on leave “over his role in a confrontation” about social distancing “in Louisville’s upper-class Norton Commons neighborhood,” the Courier Journal reports. He “approached the group because the nine people who were there – all older teens – were not engaged in social distancing.” A video shows him “shoving three young women and grabbing the neck of another.”
  • University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari has started a weekly show focused on the pandemic. “The show — titled ‘Coffee with Cal’ — will be a Facebook Live broadcast on the John Calipari Basketball Fantasy Experience Facebook page,” the Herald Leader reports. “It will air the next 20 Mondays beginning next week.” Calipari said, “I want to do something that’s uplifting and creates hope, and gives people an idea of what to do.”
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would try to take the unusual step of appropriating money by unanimous consent or voice vote when the Senate next meets, on Thursday, to put more money into the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses and their workers. The New York Times reports the Treasury Department is preparing to ask for at least $200 billion.
  • Sen. Rand Paul, who has delayed emergency spending bills in the past and missed the vote on the last one because he was quarantined. said he is now free of the coronavirus and is volunteering at an unnamed hospital in Bowling Green.

Kentucky Health News is an independent news service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Media at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.