23 deaths at Alabama VA home attributed to COVID-19

23 deaths at Alabama VA home attributed to COVID-19

By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News

Twenty-three residents at the Bill Nichols State Veterans Home in Alexander City have died from the COVID-19 virus, the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs said Tuesday. 

There are 41 active resident cases of the virus, according to department spokesman Bob Horton.

Twelve of 41 employees who tested positive for the virus have recovered and are back on staff. 

Alabama Daily News previously reported that all residents at the about 131-person facility were tested for the virus on April 18.

A National Guard unit decontaminated the home and those residents that tested positive for the virus are isolated from residents that are non-positive, Horton said.

Three employees at the William F. Green State Veterans Home in Bay Minette tested positive for the virus. There are no reports of residents testing positive of the virus at the home in Bay Minette, or the homes in Huntsville and Pell City, Horton said.

Horton said two independent reviews by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Alabama Department of Public Health show that the Alexander City home followed all Veterans Affairs, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health guidelines for the use of personal protective equipment and other preventive measures. The department requested the reviews.

A group of U.S. senators is seeking an investigation into the Department of Veterans Affairs’ oversight of homes for aging veterans amid a wave of coronavirus deaths at the state-run centers. More than 70 veterans sickened by the coronavirus died at a home in Massachusetts, and more than 85 people died at two homes in New York.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the highly contagious virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.