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Jersey Shore, Pa. –  As of Tuesday, May 19, the majority of the residents at ManorCare in Jersey Shore have tested positive for COVID-19.

Julie Beckert, assistant vice president and director of marketing and communications at HCR ManorCare’s corporate office in Toledo, Ohio, said there are now 73 residents at the Thompson Street facility who have tested positive. Thirteen residents have died, according to her figures. Some of the residents at ManorCare have co-morbidities and some are in hospice care, Beckert said.

As of last week, Beckert said the Jersey Shore facility had a total of 100 residents. Thirteen staff members have tested positive and are currently home in quarantine, she said.

“We have tested the whole house,” Beckert said in an email Tuesday morning. “There were 73 patients overall. We are treating 53 patients in house under our airborne isolation process. We have 25 patients who tested negative in house.”

“We contacted families on Friday and will stay in touch with them on any updates. We do have the right infection control processes in place along with universal masking, wearing of full PPE when caring for patients under isolation. We continue to monitor employees and patients for symptoms and signs. This is a dangerous virus and once it gets into a center, it is a challenge to manage,” Beckert wrote in an email.

Deaths due to COVID-19 at nursing homes has been an issue in Pennsylvania. Currently, almost 70 percent of recorded COVID-19 deaths in the state have been at nursing homes. Lycoming County Coroner Charles Kiessling Jr. said 15 COVID-19 deaths from nursing homes were reported to his office. “All have been from ManorCare except for one,” Kiessling said. Seven of the deaths occurred at the facility in Jersey Shore, six were at Geisinger Jersey Shore hospital and one was at UPMC Susquehanna, he said.

Ages of the COVID-19 nursing home deaths in Lycoming County range from 62 to 95, according to a spreadsheet sent by State Representative Garth Everett (R-Muncy).

One of the deaths occurred at Roseview Center in Williamsport, on April 29. Just over half of the deaths were male residents. About half also had co-morbidities, such as dementia, diabetes, heart failure, or hypertension, according to the spreadsheet.  

Beckert said the Pennsylvania DOH recently came to the facility on Thompson Street to review the infection control processes “and were satisfied with what we have in place.”  

Nate Wardle, press secretary for Pennsylvania DOH, said personal protective equipment (PPE) has been one of the most needed resources. The department has delivered more than 1,700 shipments to date to nursing homes, personal care homes and long-term living facilities.

Officials from DOH have been visiting homes where there are outbreaks to “investigate complaints and concerns related to the safety of residents,” he said. State officials also have been providing direct consultation and technical support to the facilities, including consultations from ECRI, the infection control contractor working with the state.

The Pennsylvania National Guard has been deployed to 13 facilities with immediate staffing needs, though Wardle noted, “The National Guard is primarily providing staffing support, and would not be sent into a facility just because of the number of cases.” ECRI, as well as the Patient Safety Authority and the DOH’s healthcare acquired infection team would be working to assist facilities that were hit particularly hard but have adequate staffing, Wardle added.

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Last week, State Representative Everett, whose 84th legislative district includes Jersey Shore, wrote to the Department of Health and Secretary Rachel Levine inquiring about the COVID-19 cases at ManorCare. Everett wrote a follow-up email today:

“To the best of my knowledge – 86 of Lycoming County’s 149 cases have been from MCJS residents or workers – that’s 60% of Lycoming County cases.  Even worse, at my last count, 11 of the 12 deaths in Lycoming County are from MCJS.

"I reiterate my questions below and demand to know why you don’t have DOH personnel in that facility to determine what is going on there. 

"Is it your plan to allow the remaining residents there to die also?

"Have you contact traced the employees who tested positive?

"What testing is going on there now?"

The DOH’s legislative contact said they have consulted with ManorCare and discussed their infection control policies, testing strategy, staffing, building layout, and challenges regarding the outbreak.

Regarding staffing, ManorCare was asked to closely monitor their staffing and contact the county and Pennsylvania DOH if they experience any issues “immediately so that residents are not left at risk.”

Previously on May 5, ManorCare reported having 12 positive cases. As of Tuesday, May 12, the number went up to 57 positive cases.

ManorCare has been taking precautions since March, including limiting visitors, requiring universal masking, and having staff wear the appropriate personal protective equipment.

“We appreciate our employees and all their hard work in containing the virus and caring for our patients during this unprecedented time,” Beckert said.