NewsHealth / July 23, 2020

New Report Shows More Virus Deaths At Indiana Nursing Homes

FILE - In this Thursday, April 30, 2020 file photo, Gov. Eric Holcomb wears a mask in Kokomo, Ind. - AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File

FILE - In this Thursday, April 30, 2020 file photo, Gov. Eric Holcomb wears a mask in Kokomo, Ind.

AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — New information on coronavirus-related deaths among Indiana nursing home residents collected by state health officials shows 128 more deaths than previously reported by the facilities.

Those figures released Wednesday increase such COVID-19 deaths to at least 1,390 residents through July 14, making up nearly half of the state’s coronavirus deaths since mid-March.

The state health department on Thursday reported 17 more deaths of people with COVID-19 infections, with most of those happening Tuesday or Wednesday. Those fatalities raised the state’s coronavirus death toll to 2,880.

The new nursing home information breaks down the number of coronavirus infections and deaths at individual facilities after state officials had refused to do so since April despite complaints from relatives of home residents about a lack of communication about outbreaks.

Dr. Dan Rusyniak, chief medical officer for the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, said the new report includes reports from 83% of the about 760 long-term care facilities across the state.

“The reason these numbers are different is that facilities have gotten better at reporting,” Rusyniak said. “We’ve gotten better at collecting the data. We’ve also made it easier for facilities by giving them better instructions and more time to go back and identify cases.”

The nursing homes reporting the most COVID-19 resident deaths were Harrison Terrace in Indianapolis (38), Greenwood Meadows in Greenwood (35), Bethany Pointe Health Campus in Anderson (33) and North Woods Village in Kokomo (33). The report lists 447 facilities recording no such deaths and 84 having fewer than five.

Nursing homes across the country have been devastated by COVID-19 deaths as elderly people and those with serious health troubles living in nursing homes are among the most at-risk from severe illness due to the coronavirus.

Indiana nursing homes reported 12 coronavirus-related deaths among staff members. Rusyniak said the state would not identify the facilities where those people worked because of privacy concerns.

Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Wednesday he would impose a statewide face mask mandate starting Monday, citing a a renewed growth in the number of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations across Indiana.

The state health department on Thursday announced 954 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, which is the highest number of new cases reported in a single day.

That figure topped a day in April when tests confirmed the illness among hundreds of workers at a Tyson meatpacking plant in Logansport and more half of total tests done were positive for the virus. Of those test results included in Thursday's report, about 8% were positive for COVID-19.

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