By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News
The cases of COVID-19 in Alabama’s veterans homes increased late last week as leadership pushes for more testing of residents.
The first case was confirmed on April 8 at the Bill Nichols State Veterans Home in Alexander City. As of Friday morning, 64 residents and 23 employees there tested positive for the virus. As of Friday, eight residents have died from complications attributed to the virus, according to information from the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs. The Alexander City facility has about 131 residents and 200 staff members.
Testing of all residents was completed on April 18.
Tallapoosa County, with a population of about 40,000, has seen 268 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 17 deaths, according to information Sunday from the Alabama Department of Public Health.
Additionally, three employees at the William F. Green State Veterans Home in Bay Minette have tested positive. The veterans homes in Huntsville and Pell City had not reported any cases, as of Friday. Commissioner Kent Davis said the three homes are continuing to test residents and employees.
Last week, Davis told Alabama Daily News that his biggest concern was asymptomatic carriers of the virus within the homes.
Nursing home officials last week said more testing is needed to help them react and contain the virus.
John Matson, a spokesman for the Alabama Nursing Home Association, on Friday said 75 nursing homes in 41 counties have reported at least one COVID-19 positive resident or employee.
More than 200 Alabamians have died from COVID-19 since mid-March, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health. About 79% of them were over the age of 65. Nearly 700 of the state’s more than 6,200 cases, as of Sunday morning, were in long-term care residents and employees.
The ADPH long-term care numbers include not just nursing homes, but assisted-living facilities too.