This story was updated Monday, April 27, 2020, at 8:45 p.m. with more information.
Most of the residents of a Life Care Center in Athens, Tennessee, have tested positive for COVID-19.
A week after Life Care Centers of America disclosed the first instance of a coronavirus-infected worker at the facility, the Cleveland, Tennessee-based nursing home chain said Monday that 54 residents at the Athens nursing home are infected with the virus. Some 37 residents have tested negative for the coronavirus, according to the facility.
All of the residents at the senior living facility were tested for COVID-19 in response to positive results among a resident and three associates that were reported last week.
Life Care Athens Executive Director Jeffrey Ricks said in a statement that testing also has been offered for all of the center's workers, which is expected to be completed Monday.
"As of now, patients who test positive are separated from those who test negative," he said. "We have also paused admissions because we want our focus to remain on our current residents and associates."
Ricks said that as results come back, the number of positive cases is being appropriately reported to all the required agencies, and the center remains in consistent communication with residents' family members.
"We are strictly following guidelines from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), the Tennessee State Department of Health and the local department of health to protect the safety of our residents and associates," he said.
McMinn County, where Athens is located, was listed with 14 cases of COVID-19 as of Sunday, according to the state health department, and 65 cases as of Monday.
Ricks said last week that when Life Care was notified about the initial positive results, it notified the state health department and started the process of contacting every resident, resident family member and staff member to inform them of the initial positive test.
Ricks said the center received notification of the initial positive test Sunday, April 12.
He said that all three associates were recovering at home and will only return to work when Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to go back to work are met.
"Our associates are being diligent on practicing proper hand hygiene and the use of personal protective equipment, which is recurring education they normally receive, beginning with their orientation at our facility," he said. "Every associate is also screened when they arrive for work and when they leave, including checking temperature, to ensure no additional sickness is brought into our building. Anyone with a fever over 100 degrees is sent home and asked to contact their personal physician."
The guidelines also place restrictions on the entrance of visitors, family members and vendors. Signage with information on COVID-19 and details about these restrictions is posted on doors, Ricks said.
Long-term care facilities across the country have been sources of COVID-19 outbreaks — sometimes called "clusters" or "hot spots" — drawing attention for large numbers of coronavirus-related fatalities.
A Life Care Centers nursing home in Kirkland, Washington, has seen more than 120 cases of coronavirus infections and at least 37 deaths, and the facility emerged as an early center of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.
The daughter of a woman who died of suspected COVID-19 at Life Care Center of Kirkland is suing the Cleveland, Tennessee-based company that owns the nursing home in King County Superior Court, the Seattle Times reported.
Deborah de los Angeles is accusing Life Care of fraud and the wrongful death of her 85-year-old mother, Twilla Morin, arguing that the company was negligent in failing to inform her family of the coronavirus outbreak at the facility, the report said.
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