LDH identifies clusters of COVID-19 cases in 11 nursing homes

Updated: Mar. 28, 2020 at 10:58 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Harahan leaders are working with the Louisiana Department of Health after a cluster of Coronavirus cases was identified at a nursing home there. St. Joseph’s of Harahan is one of 11 nursing homes or assisted living facilities in the state where LDH found two or more cases believed to be connected.

“It’s a big concern and it’s the same concern people are raising in Seattle and New York and many other parts of the country,” LDH State Health Officer Dr. Jospeh Kanter said.

Kanter says nursing homes are hot beds for some of the most serious COVID-19 cases because they house the two most at-risk groups— the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.

"When people are living close together it can be spread basically from person to person person to staff member," Kanter said.

Kanter says there is a fear these numbers may continue to rise. It's why the state is working directly with nursing homes across the region to try to implement new procedures.

“Limiting visitors who come in because that limits the chance the virus will be imported into the nursing home, implementing symptoms and temperature checks for the staff of the nursing home. If anyone gets signs of COVID, they can be removed from that environment promptly,” Kanter explained.

LDH State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter says these places are also being deep cleaned more frequently. Plus, he tells FOX 8 the department is helping to put the proper isolation and quarantine protocols in place.

“We think it’s the best thing these facilities can do to mitigate the risk we do know exists,” Kanter said.

Though the Governor banned or severely limited visitors at nursing homes two weeks ago, Kanter says the community count continues to rise.

“We see that happening for at least the next week or two, unfortunately,” Kanter said.

Kanter warns it's not just nursing homes. He asks people to act as if they're carrying the virus and to help protect elderly family members by running errands and staying away. Leave food and supplies on their doorstep. The less they leave their home and the fewer people who enter it, the safer they'll be.

“Now is not the best time to have those visits because you might have the virus. You might not have symptoms yet but you might be infected and you might carry that onto your loved one,” Kanter said.

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