Nursing Home Lockdown

Donna Moore, chief operating officer of the company that runs the Park Springs senior community, zips up a door to seal off a section of a medical facility Thursday, April 30, 2020, in Stone Mountain, Ga.

(The Center Square) – More than half of the COVID-19 deaths in Georgia are linked to long-term care facilities, according to the state's latest statistics.

Of the 1,405 COVID-19 deaths reported in Georgia through Monday, 711 were among people who live at nursing homes, assisted living communities or personal care homes.

The data for long-term care facilities is being reported daily by the Georgia Department of Community Health. Until Tuesday morning, the data was not referenced or could not be found in the Georgia Department of Public Health's daily status report.

GDPH added a link to the long-term care facility data Tuesday morning.

GDCH oversees the Healthcare Facility Regulation Division (HFRD), Medicaid and the State Health Benefit Plan. HFRD is the office keeping track of the cases in the long-term care facilities, but not all of the providers are included in the report.

One in four Georgians live in assisted living communities, according to GDCH’s website, but smaller personal care homes are excluded from the report.

All licensed nursing homes and assisted living communities, and licensed personal care homes of 25 beds or more, are required to report daily COVID-19 cases to HFRD.

At least one confirmed case has been reported at 354 facilities in the state. More than a dozen of the facilities have outbreaks among more than 70 percent of the residents.

Summerset Assisted Living and Nursing Home in Atlanta has 42 residents. Forty-one of the residents and 26 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19.

PruittHealth-Palmyra nursing home in Albany and Westbury Medical Care and Rehab in Jackson both have reported 21 deaths, the highest to date.

Gov. Brian Kemp deployed a Georgia National Guard medical support team to PruittHealth-Palmyra in March to help contain the outbreak.

Nursing homes nationwide have been especially hard hit as residents fall into two major at-risk categories: elderly and underlying medical conditions that compromise their immune systems.

Residential care facilities can include adult-care homes, family-care homes, multiunit assisted housing, group homes and homes for people with intellectual disabilities. The GDCH report, however, does not identify the facilities by type even though a frequently asked questions page for the report said the category is included.

The COVID-19 report is being used by the Georgia National Guard and state agencies to plan response actions. The information was previously being published by the governor’s office, GDPH said.

Staff Reporter

Nyamekye Daniel has been a journalist for three years. She was the managing editor for the South Florida Media Network and a staff writer for The Miami Times. Daniel's work has also appeared in the Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald and The New York Times.