CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A second resident of a West Virginia nursing home described as “ground zero” for the state’s coronavirus caseload has died, Gov. Jim Justice said Thursday.
Justice, a Republican, said the state's fifth virus death was an 89-year-old woman from the Sundale nursing home in Morgantown.
Carl Shrader, medical director for the Sundale nursing home, has said the facility is “ground zero” for the virus after it reported an outbreak of around 30 cases late last month while there were only about 50 cases reported statewide. Health officials on Sunday reported the center's first death, a 76-year-old man.
The governor, who has repeatedly warned of the virus spreading among the elderly, has called Sundale a “horror story." The nursing home has moved to test all residents and staffers and use isolation measures throughout the center.
Monongalia County, where Sundale is located, is counted among the state’s virus hot spots and is subject to stronger safety protocols along with Marion, Berkeley, Jefferson, Morgan, Harrison and Kanawha counties.
Gatherings in those counties have been limited to five people and local health departments have been told to establish maximum occupancy rules for businesses, after executive orders from Justice.
Kanawha County health officials on Thursday said seven residents and one staffer at the Eastbrook Center nursing home in Charleston have tested positive. The center’s owner, Stonerise Healthcare, said it is following CDC precautions to prevent further spread of the virus.
The state health department said at least 523 people have the virus after more than 13,800 tests. Five people have died. Testing remains limited, meaning most people now spreading the highly contagious virus may not know they have been infected, and state health officials have admitted their count lags behind the actual total as results pour in from counties around the state.
Justice has previously ordered a state of emergency, directed all nonessential businesses to close and shuttered schools until at least April 30. The state's primary election has been rescheduled from May 12 to June 9 over fears of the virus spreading at polling places. The governor on Thursday also tightened social distancing rules at golf courses.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks, and the overwhelming majority of people recover. But people with severe cases can need respirators to survive, and with infections spreading exponentially, many hospitals are bracing for coming waves of patients.