Deaths related to coronavirus climbing again in Georgia nursing homes

ATLANTA — Months into the battle against coronavirus, the number of people dying in Georgia’s long-term care facilities is going up again.

Information provided by the state shows more than 500 people in those facilities died in just the past month. That’s an increase of more than 200 from the month before.

“Unfortunately, what we’re seeing in our centers is somewhat reflective of what we’re seeing in our communities in Georgia. We find there’s been an increase in cases as the community spread has increased,” said Tony Marshall, president of the Georgia Healthcare Association, which represents many of the state’s nursing facilities.

Marshall says new federal guidelines call for more testing in nursing facilities, but he also says many facilities can’t afford the additional testing unless they get more financial help from the state or federal government.

“We know that about 40 percent have indicated they have serious financial difficulties right now. And need some additional assistance,” said Marshall.

William Harris says he lost his beloved mother Virginia in a metro Atlanta nursing home just last week.

“Even though she had been in a nursing home for several years, it still was a shock to us as a family,” said Harris.

He believes nursing facilities need to do more to keep the virus out.

“We’re not paying or giving enough attention to our elderly,” Harris said.

Early in the pandemic Gov. Brian Kemp sent members of the Georgia National Guard to help nursing homes with sanitation and implementing infection control.

Have questions about the spread of coronavirus? We have an entire section dedicated to coverage of the outbreak. CLICK HERE for more.