Questions linger on nursing home death cluster in Mississippi County

Questions linger on nursing home death cluster in Mississippi County
Health secretary identifies nursing home death cluster in Mississippi County (Source: WBRC)

MISSISSIPPI COUNTY, Ark. (KAIT) - There were more questions than answers after Arkansas Department of Health Secretary Jose Romero said Thursday there was a cluster of nursing home deaths, due to COVID-19 in Mississippi County.

Dr. Romero said during Governor Asa Hutchinson’s COVID-19 briefing that 8 of the 9 nursing home deaths reported were from a nursing home in Mississippi County. He did not specify which nursing home the deaths were attributed to.

Region 8 News reached out to the Arkansas Department of Health for clarification on which nursing home experienced the cluster. An ADH spokesperson did not have that information but said it would be in Friday’s report.

We also reached out to the Executive Director of the Arkansas Health Care Association, Rachel Bunch. She did not know which nursing home was affected either.

However, she did say she believed that it may boil down to a discrepancy in reporting.

“There have been deaths at the facility there, but they were not all on the same day at the same time,” Bunch said.

Bunch went on to say that the facility she believed the ADH was referring to is starting to see an improvement in the outbreak at that nursing home.

Bunch said there have been around 50 cumulative cases and 10 residents have died there.

Over in Blytheville, Bunch said there have been 56 residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 and 46 have recovered. She said there have also been 10 deaths there.

When it comes to Harris Healthcare in Osceola, she said there are currently 11 active COVID-19 cases among residents there and there have been two deaths.

Bunch said that all facilities are working tirelessly to take care of their residents.

“They are on the uphill part of this right now,” Bunch said. “They’ve gone through a hard time and they have really, you know, had a difficult time with the virus, but they have worked tirelessly there to try and protect the residents that are there.”

The new point-of-care testing machine that the federal government has been sending out are now in all Mississippi County nursing homes, Bunch said.

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