LIMA — Six nursing home residents and/or employees in Allen County and nine in Auglaize County have tested positive for COVID-19. At least one has died.
The state’s coronavirus website on Thursday for the first time included statistics on the number of residents and staff at Ohio’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities who have tested positive for the virus. The numbers will be updated weekly at 2 p.m. each Wednesday.
The data released Thursday showed five confirmed positive tests at Mennonite Memorial Home in Bluffton and one each at Lima Manor and Shawnee Manor. One resident at the Bluffton facility has died from the virus, according to the company’s website.
In Auglaize County, state statistics show one positive test at Otterbein-St. Marys Senior Life Community and four at Otterbein-Cridersville. An Otterbein spokesman on Thursday, however, said figures released by the state for the Cridersville facility were already outdated by the time they were published online.
Gary Horning, vice president of marketing and communications for Otterbein Senior Centers, said there have been eight positive tests for the coronavirus at Otterbein-Cridersville: four residents and four staff members.
“We had a nursing aide who experienced symptoms (associated with the coronavirus) and was tested immediately on April 10. The next day we had a patient and a second employee, a nurse, test positive,” Horning said.
“We immediately reached out to the Department of Health and to our own lab and had every resident and many of our caregivers tested. Of the 35 residents tested, four were positive, 28 tested negative and the results of three tests are still pending,” he said.
One resident who tested positive has been hospitalized and the other three have been placed in what the Otterbein spokesman termed a special COVID-19 positive isolation wing. Caregivers who work in the isolation wing are dedicated exclusively to that portion of the facility, Horning said.
He said it was especially alarming that three of the four residents who tested positive for COVID-19 still have exhibited no outward signs of the coronavirus.
“This just shows how insidious this disease is and why we need to expand our testing statewide,” Horning said.
Four of 13 Cridersville employees tested at the site have also tested positive and have been in isolation in their homes since the results were known. Three employees tested negative, and six test results are still pending.
Horning said the positive test at the company’s St. Marys location represented a “ totally different” set of circumstances.
“In St. Marys, we had one man who was transferred to our facility following a stay in the hospital. He began to show symptoms (of COVID-19) shortly after he arrived so he was tested at the facility on April 8. The results of that test came back positive on April 11 and he was immediately transferred back to the hospital,” Horning said.
“The good news is that, because of extensive protocols we’ve had in place for some time now, all new patients are automatically put into quarantine for 14 days, regardless of their symptoms,” the spokesman said.
Horning said both families of residents at both St. Marys and Cridersville have been apprised of the positive tests, as required by order of Department of Health Director Amy Acton.
Jason Cox, director of marketing for Mennonite Home Communities of Ohio, on Thursday cited company policy in declining to directly comment on the positive tests at the Bluffton facility. He invited questions to be submitted via email and referenced a statement on the facility’s website that was posted after the first positive test was confirmed.
That statement, dated April 8, reads: “At the Mennonite Memorial Home, the safety and well-being of our residents and staff is our top priority. We are sad to report that Mennonite Memorial Home received confirmation that a resident who was sent to the hospital and subsequently passed away there had tested positive for COVID-19.
“Everyone in our organization and community is devastated by this loss, and our hearts go out to the family of that resident. We continue to work closely with the Allen County Health Department and will continue to follow their guidance and protocols to contain further spread of COVID-19.”
The statement also outlines additional steps taken at the facility in the wake of the positive tests. Temperatures are being taken twice daily for all staff members, and all nursing staff is now wearing N95 masks. Temperatures of all residents are being taken on every shift and all are being monitored for symptoms of respiratory illness, according to the website.
Tammi Gough, public information officer with the Allen County Health Department, said county health officials have followed up with nursing homes following each report of a positive test.
“We do contact tracing to see who each person has been in contact with,” Gough said, “and then we submit information about a positive test into the state database.”
The local health official said the state of Ohio “is not talking about deaths in nursing homes right now,” but said Gov. Mike DeWine indicated Thursday he would look into releasing those figures.
Gough is certain the numbers will rise in coming days.
“Data is what it is. And because of the lack of tests, the data is only a small picture of what’s going on. This really is a testing issue,” she said.