UPDATE: Hard hit West Virginia nursing home reporting 28 virus cases

UPDATE: (Thursday, March 26, 2020, at 12:45 pm) MORGANTOWN, WV (WOAY) – The West Virginia nursing home described as the epicenter of the state’s coronavirus caseload now has 28 positive cases as containment measures continue, officials said Thursday.

Sundale nursing home medical director Carl Shrader said 20 residents and eight staffers at the Morgantown facility have the virus, with four tests pending after an aggressive effort to screen nearly everyone at the center.

“What’s on all our minds is containing it where we have it and not letting it rage on if possible,” he told The Associated Press in a phone interview.

Shrader has described Sundale as “ ground zero ” for the virus in West Virginia. State officials reported at least 51 positive cases as of Wednesday night, with the largest number in Monongalia County where the nursing home is located.

Testing remains limited, meaning most people now spreading the highly contagious virus may not know they have been infected, and state health officials have admitted their count lags behind the actual total as results pour in from counties around the state. West Virginia has yet to report a death from the coronavirus.

Isolation measures are in place throughout the nursing home, with the facility receiving donations of testing equipment and safety gear since the first case emerged Sunday. The state’s National Guard is also assisting in the effort.

“I think we’re all feeling tired. It’s been a process, we’ve had very long days but everyone’s staying positive and realizes this is something we have to accomplish,” Shrader said, adding that he and others have been fielding calls from worried family members who have been barred from visiting the facility.

Republican Gov. Jim Justice has repeatedly warned of the virus’s potential damage in a state where about 20% of the population is 65 or older and a high percentage of people have existing health problems. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation study found that West Virginia has the nation’s highest percentage of adults at risk of developing serious illnesses from the virus.

A statewide stay-home order that directed all nonessential businesses to close went into effect Tuesday night, intensifying previous moves by Justice, who has ordered the closure of bars, restaurants, casinos, gyms, health clubs, recreation centers, barbershops, nail salons and hair salons.

Separately, Kanawha County health officials said a resident of the Brookdale Charleston Gardens assisted living center tested positive for the coronavirus Wednesday morning. Officials said they will test the facility’s roughly 81 other residents.

The governor was scheduled to hold a news conference Thursday afternoon.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks, and the overwhelming majority of people recover. But severe cases can need respirators to survive, and with infections spreading exponentially, hospitals across the country are either bracing for a coming wave of patients, or already struggling to keep up.

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UPDATE: (Wednesday, March 25, 2020, at 11:45 am) MORGANTOWN, WV (WOAY) – 20 people have now tested positive for COVID-19 at a nursing facility in West Virginia.
Sundale Rehabilitation and Long Term Care facility located in Morgantown, WV has announced that they have 16 residents and 4 staffers to test positive, as of Wednesday morning.  50 tests are still pending.
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MORGANTOWN, WV (WOAY) — Multiple residents and staff at a West Virginia nursing home have tested positive for coronavirus.
Sundale Rehabilitation and Long Term Care facility located in Morgantown, WV held a brief press conference through Facebook.

Press Conference

Posted by Sundale Rehabilitation & Long Term Care on Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The West Virginia Health Care Association’s CEO, Marty Wright, issued the following statement:
“We were saddened to learn that multiple residents and staff in a West Virginia nursing home have now tested positive for the coronavirus. We know the virus has a disproportionate impact on our elderly, and our primary focus remains stopping the spread of the virus within this facility and others. Facilities statewide remain vigilant in taking preventative measures to combat the virus and we are grateful to all the local and state officials who have remained in regular contact with facilities around the state to offer assistance.
The WV Bureau of Public Health is to be commended for the fast, aggressive testing of residents and staff in the facility. As we have seen in other states, the quick identification and monitoring has significantly impacted the spread and treatment of the disease. We also couldn’t be more proud of the strength, determination and compassion demonstrated by our long-term care staff as they remain completely focused on protecting the residents entrusted to their care.
We will continue to monitor the situation at the nursing home in Morgantown, and while not one of our member facilities, we stand ready to help its residents, staff and their respective loved ones in any way we can.” The West Virginia Health Care Association is West Virginia’s largest trade association representing nursing facilities and assisted living communities.
The WVHCA is dedicated to helping maintain high standards of care for licensed long-term care facilities through leadership, education and advocacy. Its member facilities employ more than 18,000 people and care for around 10,000 West Virginians daily.
Tyler Barker
Tyler Barker is currently the News Director and Digital Content Manager for WOAY-TV. He was promoted to this job in Mid-November. He still will fill in on weather from time to time. You can Follow Tyler on Facebook and Twitter @wxtylerb. Have any news tips or weather questions? Email him at tbarker@woay.com