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Connecticut Tracks COVID-19 Cases But Doesn't Keep Nursing Home Tally

Joe Amon
/
Connecticut Public/NENC
An N95 mask at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center drive-through mobile center on March 18.

As the number of COVID-19 cases in Connecticut continues to grow, the state has been collecting lots of data, but there’s a potential blind spot: nursing homes.

On Thursday, Gov. Ned Lamont said the state does have a handle on COVID-19 cases at nursing homes.

“They know it’s a petri dish for spreading that virus around. They’re being incredibly careful. That said, there are some risks of contagion there. And we’re following that very carefully,” Lamont said.

But on Friday, a state Department of Public Health spokesperson said the agency doesn’t keep a running tally of nursing home residents in Connecticut who have tested positive for COVID-19. 

At Benchmark Senior Living at Ridgefield Crossing in hard-hit Fairfield County, two residents recently died after testing positive for the virus. 

In a statement Friday, the nursing home said 16 residents tested positive as did six staff members.

The nursing home said affected residents have been isolated, and staff members who tested positive were already outside the facility on leave due to their proximity to people who tested positive.

A spokesperson for the facility said it’s assigning “dedicated staff to care for the affected residents, assigning them a separate entrance into the community and having them avoid visiting other communal areas.” 

The facility is also restricting visitors to only those who are essential. It has suspended all new resident move-ins until further notice. 

“Each and every resident, family member and associate is an integral part of the Ridgefield family, and we will continue to support one another during this time,” spokesperson Maureen Ray said in an email Friday. “As the situation evolves, we remain committed to providing ongoing support and transparent communications to our residents and their family members as well as our associates.”

At Evergreen Health Care Center in Stafford Springs, spokesperson Tim Brown said Friday evening that three residents had died after testing positive for COVID-19.

He said as of Wednesday, five patients and three staff members had also tested positive for the virus. 

Brown said the facility has asked the state to provide COVID-19 tests for its entire staff and residents. The facility also requested additional personal protective equipment and has initiated quarantines in affected areas. 

“At the start of this pandemic, we initiated a series of protections aimed at mitigating the threat of coronavirus at our center,” Brown said in a statement. “These include restricting visitors from Evergreen, taking the temperature of anyone who enters the facility, requiring anyone who enters the facility to complete a health questionnaire and increasing monitoring of all residents every day.”

Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached at pskahill@ctpublic.org.

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