New York nursing homes hit hard by coronavirus: report

New York City, US, Apr 17 (efe-epa).- Nursing homes in the state of New York, the global epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, have informed authorities of the death of multiple patients in their facilities, including 55 deaths in the Cobble Hill Health Center in the New York City suburb of Brooklyn.

An official report published on Friday offers a count of 1,145 deaths, according to survey figures provided up until Wednesday by the state’s rest homes, and which are incomplete.

All of them are suffering the scourge of the pandemic and most registered more than 10 deaths, with 19 reporting at least 20 deaths linked to the virus.

The 300-bed Cobble Hill Health Center in Brooklyn registered the highest number of deaths on a list that is assumed to be incomplete, since it only includes nursing homes with five deaths or more, but which indicates a health crisis within the most vulnerable population in densely populated working-class areas, such as the Bronx and Queens in New York City.

The more than 1,000 deaths recorded by the nursing homes include those who tested positive for COVID-19 and those who are assumed to have suffered from it, and represent a third of the more than 3,000 deaths due to confirmed or suspected cases attributed to these types of centers, according to the reports of authorities on Wednesday.

Neither Cobble Hill center in Brooklyn nor Franklin in Queens, another one of the most affected with 44 deaths, took calls on Friday. Instead, they were obliged to call relatives of the coronavirus positive patients or those deceased, as ordered by Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday.

Cuomo took action following the news that a nursing home in neighboring New Jersey had 17 bodies stacked in a morgue with a capacity for four corpses and a total of 68 deceased residents, 26 of them with COVID-19, while their family members had difficulty obtaining information about their loved ones.

On Friday, local media reported that 29 elderly people had died at the Sapphire Center in the Queens neighborhood, without specifying how many of them were infected by the outbreak, while family members were also unable to get in touch.

Authorities indicate 26 dead in their list, which confirms outdated figures.

The nursing homes must now inform the relatives within 24 hours if there is a positive case or a death according to Cuomo’s order, who when asked why the public had not been informed earlier about the impact of the coronavirus in elderly care homes answered: “We only know what they tell us.”

Cuomo acknowledged that the elderly are “the most vulnerable population” and that “radical measures” have been taken to protect them, including a ban on visits, tests for employees and increased hygiene.

In New York state, the hardest hit in the United States, the epidemic has so far claimed 12,822 lives and more than 12,300 are hospitalized. EFE-EPA


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