Shelby Co. Health Department: Nursing home outbreaks not under control

Concerns remain for Shelby County nursing homes

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. (WMC) - Shelby County health leaders expressed optimism after the Memorial Day holiday weekend, but acknowledged big problems remain in the fight against COVID-19, particularly for nursing homes.

On Tuesday morning, the Shelby County Health Department reported 4,531 confirmed cases, about 130 more than the previous day. The health department also confirmed 94 deaths and 3,047 recoveries.

"We've been averaging about 100 new cases per day over the weekend, and it's a little bit higher than we had, had previously," said Dr. Alisa Haushalter, Shelby County Health Department director. "But this has been a steady trend, so I'm not overly concerned at the current time."

Long-term care facilities with coronavirus cases in Shelby County
Long-term care facilities with coronavirus cases in Shelby County (Source: SCHD)

But one area that remains a big concern is nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

The health department reported 19 additional residents had tested positive for COVID-19 at Parkway Health and Rehab.

The outbreak at Parkway Health and Rehab was identified by officials on April 6. In total, 58 residents there have tested positive along with 12 staff members. Nine people connected to Parkway have died, according to the Shelby County Health Department.

"As far as nursing homes themselves, I want to be very clear that they are not under control," said Haushalter.

She said many nursing homes across the country have a staffing shortage.

"And then if staff are sick, there's even more shortages and so it's just likely that there will be more transmission as a result of that," said Haushalter.

A review by The Associated Press found that at least half of the states are not going to meet White House's deadline to test every resident and staff member.

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During a visit to Memphis last week, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee said he wants to test every nursing home resident and staff member in Tennessee by the end of this month.

"You'll see more testing in nursing homes, and as a result, you're likely to see increased positivity rates among that population," said Haushalter.

She said seniors may not display typical COVID-19 symptoms like fever or cough.

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"So I think we have to be hypersensitive when it comes to our seniors and any mild changes in their typical way of being should be assigned for testing," said Haushalter.

WMC Action News 5 called Parkway Health and Rehab for comment but was unable to reach anyone who could talk on behalf of the facility.

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