The Virginia Department of Health is not releasing which long-term care/senior care facilities on the Peninsula have positive cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
But is the health department letting these facilities know about other nursing homes with positive cases?
Federal officials are coming under increasing pressure to start publicly tracking coronavirus infections and deaths in nursing homes and assisted/senior living facilities amid criticism they have not been transparent about the scope of outbreaks that have already claimed thousands of lives.
Experts say that lack of transparency has been a major blindspot, and that publicizing outbreaks as they happen could not only alert nearby communities but also help officials see where to focus testing and other safety measures.
Because the federal government has not been releasing a count, The Associated Press has been keeping its own tally. As of April 15, there are more than 4,800 deaths.
Greg Storer, president and CEO of Williamsburg Landing, said they have no confirmed cases among residents or staff at this time. The man who previously tested positive for the coronavirus and was hospitalized has since recovered, he added.
Storer is part of Gov. Ralph Northam’s COVID-19 Taskforce and a board member of LeadingAge Virginia, an organization made up of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
When asked if Williamsburg Landing had received information about other facilities with positive cases, Storer said LeadingAge Virginia has been asking VDH to release this information for weeks.
“It’s inconsistent across the state,” he said, noting Fairfax County and Alexandria release information to their communities. “Information is key and that’s something we need to have access to.”
“They [Peninsula Health District] provided wealth of information to us when we had our first positive case,” he added. “We’re asking the state, the commonwealth to release that info across the commonwealth not just in certain areas.”
Chris Henderson, CEO of Pinnacle Living, said in a prepared statement WindsorMeade does not have any positive cases among residents or staff and the two people who tested positive have fully recovered.
“In fact, one of those residents actually rode eight miles on his bicycle over the weekend and the other resident has been working outside in their garden and enjoying this beautiful weather,” he added.
Henderson noted they are working with LeadingAge Virginia and the Peninsula Health District to make information about other cases at long-term care facilities available.
Envoy of Williamsburg
Brian Stevenson, executive director of Envoy, referred WYDaily to Jennifer Trapp, spokeswoman for Consulate Health Care about the number of positive cases at the facility. She was not immediately available for comment.
When asked if VDH had told Stevenson about the number of cases in nearby facilities, he issued the following statement:
“So here’s what I do, I focus on my facility,” he said. “I don’t have the time to worry about other facilities, if that makes sense.”
Mark Hubbard, spokesman for Commonwealth Senior Living at Williamsburg, said there are no cases among residents or staff at this time.
“We’re obviously communicating with health officials with everything that’s going on,” he said.
In terms of whether the facility was aware of nearby cases, he said he didn’t know.
“For us we’ve just been following up on our own protocols,” Hubbard said. “That has not been a concern that’s been raised, that has just not been an issue for us.”
“We are very fortunate to not have any symptoms or cases of coronavirus in our building,” said Victoria Bowen, Edgeworth Park at New Town.
She added the executive director, was not available for comment on Friday, and has been in contact with the VDH.
Emily Gorman, executive director for Dominion Village at Willamsburg referred WYDaily to its corporate agency, Five Star Senior Living’s media statement, which noted the facility is following CDC guidelines.
A spokesman for Morningside in Williamsburg said Friday they have no positive cases among residents.
White Oaks at Williamsburg, Brookdale Chambrel Williamsburg, Consulate Healthcare of Williamsburg, Colonial Manor Senior Community were not immediately available for comment.
Greenfield Senior Living of Williamsburg and Spring Arbor of Williamsburg declined to comment on the story and Brightstar of Williamsburg referred WYDaily to corporate media relations.
As of Friday, James City County has 138 positive cases of the coronavirus, Newport News has 100, Hampton has 78, York County has 38, Williamsburg has 19 and Poquoson has 6, according to the Virginia Department of Health’s website.
Statewide, Friday’s report from the VDH showed 7,491 positive cases of the coronavirus. The death toll was 231.
At least 11 people from the Peninsula Health District and one person from the Hampton Heath District have died from the coronavirus.
The Peninsula Health District covers Newport News, Poquoson, Williamsburg, James City County and York County. The Hampton Health District covers Hampton.
There are now three outbreaks on the Peninsula, two in congregate settings and one in a long-term care facility.
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