Life Care Athens deaths rise to 14 amid coronavirus outbreak

Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / Life Care Center of Athens is seen on Monday, May 4, 2020 in Athens, Tenn.

Life Care Center of Athens, Tennessee, on Tuesday reported two more deaths at the senior living facility amid the coronavirus outbreak, pushing the total number to 14 residents.

The death toll is up from 12 residents about 10 days ago.

According to the facility belonging to Life Care Centers of America of Cleveland, Tennessee, 80 residents have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Also, 52 associates have tested positive, while 38 of the workers have recovered and returned to their jobs after meeting the strict CDC guidelines for doing so, the center said.

The center reported that 65 COVID-19 positive residents are currently living and being cared for in the facility, located in an isolation area of the center.

"Since the notification of our first positive case of COVID-19, we have been committed to taking care of our residents who have tested positive," said Jeffrey Ricks, the center's executive director. "We also continue to partner with local hospitals and physicians to arrange the transfer of our COVID-19 patients to local hospitals for continued care if their condition requires a more acute setting."

The Washington Post reported last week that at least five Life Care Centers have had more than 100 COVID-19 positive cases at their facilities. Among the more than 200 nursing homes operated by Life Care, at least 250 patients and staff have died, the newspaper reported.

The federal government recently announced $4.9 billion in funding to help skilled nursing facilities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living, said that the resources are "an important step toward ensuring residents in long-term care facilities receive the vital support needed during this unprecedented public health crisis."

He said the members of the association that represents 14,000 nursing homes and long-term care facilities across the country are working around the clock to protect people most vulnerable to the coronavirus.

"Given the gravity of the situation we are facing with this deadly virus and its impact on our vulnerable residents, long term care facilities require additional support and funding from state and federal governments to reduce its spread," he said.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.