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Coalition turns focus to impact of pandemic on nursing homes

The Selma-Dallas County Coronavirus Community Coalition met for its weekly meeting Tuesday at noon, turning an eye toward the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on area nursing homes and similar facilities.

Alabama Nursing Home Association President Brandon Farmer, who attended the weekly meeting for the first time Tuesday, noted that leaders knew from the beginning that the pandemic would be a “crisis” for nursing homes, which house some of state’s most at-risk residents.

According to Farmer, the first case of a COVID-positive patient in a state nursing home was reported on March 19 – by April 6, 30 facilities had cases of the disease; by April 13, there were 46 facilities with positive cases; by April 27, 80 of the state’s 234 facilities across all counties had been impacted; by May 5, more than 90 facilities had been impacted and, as of June 2, more than 60 percent of state nursing homes had been hit with the virus.

Farmer noted that most facilities have recovered, but added that many continue to see transmission.

Additionally, Farmer said that there will be an “increased possibility of communal transmission” as the state moves toward reopening and that will likely impact nursing home residents.

A representative from Selma Health and Rehab reported that there were currently no positive cases in its facility, though one resident was previously exposed – that resident has since been transported for treatment elsewhere and a lengthy process of isolation and testing ensued thereafter.

The facility only had 70 test kits, which had to be used strategically, the representative reported.

Park Place Nursing Home reported that it recently became a COVID-positive facility – one resident was discharged and tested positive at the hospital; as a result of that test, residents and employees were tested and, with all but 16 residents tested, no residents tested positive, but four employees did out of the 113 tested.

Those employees have been sent home to recover.

Lighthouse reported that all residents and employees had been tested and no positive cases had been reported.

Elsewhere in the meeting, Dallas County Probate Judge Jimmy Nunn reported on the two positive cases within the courthouse that shuttered the Dallas County Commission office and the Tag and License office late last week.

Nunn noted that the offices, which underwent a deep clean Monday, would be closed for two weeks.

The Alabama State Troopers office in Selma will process licenses but appointments are required.

Additionally, Nunn noted that licenses can be renewed online and there will be no penalty for late renewals until June 22.

Nunn also stressed the importance of maintaining caution about spread of the virus, which as of Tuesday afternoon had infected more than 18,350 and resulted in nearly 650 deaths in the state – Dallas County had 282 cases and three confirmed deaths from the disease.

“It is very important that we continue to promote wearing masks, temperature checks and social distancing within [the courthouse],” Nunn said. “However, we cannot control the external forces or who the employees are with or who they associate with after work. We’re just asking everybody to keep safe.”

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