National Guard helping clean up nursing home that lost 10 patients to coronavirus

Gov. Kemp said he has signed an executive order mandating more aggressive measures at all assisted living and nursing homes in the state.

ATHENS, Ga. — Gov. Brian Kemp announced Wednesday that he is mandating more aggressive infection-control measures at Georgia nursing homes and long-term care facilites.

The news comes the day after Channel 2 Action News reported that 10 people from a single nursing home in Athens died.

Today, Channel 2′s Tom Regan learned that at least seven other people are infected at PruittHealth Grandview.

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Regan spent the day in Athens, though keeping a distance from the facility.

PruittHealth's owner and CEO, Neil Pruitt, said they are getting help this week from the National Guard to do a deep cleaning. Pruitt said they're working around the clock to protect residents.

Demitria Freeman, whose uncle is in the facility, said she feared the worst when she learned of all the deaths. Freeman has not talked to her uncle, Michael, yet, but did learn he is not among those who died.

"We found out last night. I was really scared because I didn't know if my uncle was one that died out of the 10," Freeman said. "I guess you feel really helpless, yes, because I have no answers right now."

Pruitt told Regan that they have tested the majority of the patients and of the seven who are positive, some are asymptomatic. He said they are being kept in a separate area of the facility and that the staff are wearing protective gear and their temperatures are being tested for signs of infection.

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"We are erecting physical barriers between our healthy population and those exhibiting signs of COVID-19," Pruitt said.

Pruitt said they've also hired more housekeeping staff and are getting help from the National Guard.

"The National Guard is assisting sanitizing the facility this week," Pruitt said. "We've also installed an air filtration system to make sure there is no contamination in the air."

Pruitt said only essential personnel and health care workers are allowed into the facility.

Pruitt said he's proud of the dedication of the staff here, who he said is getting additional pay during this very difficult time.

"We are so saddened by the outbreak of the disease not just in our facilities, but society," Pruitt said. "We want them to know we are working 24 hours a day to make sure their loved ones are safe."

Freeman said she hopes to have a video chat with her uncle tomorrow, but until then, she had this message for him:

“Mike, I love you. I hope you are doing well and that you could come home,” Freeman said.

The patients were residents at PruittHealth Grandview.