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Death toll up to 33 at Canterbury; Va. reps in Congress urged emergency aid to nursing facilities

RICHMOND — One more resident of Canterbury Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center has died of COVID-19, bringing the death toll to 33 at the skilled nursing facility in western Henrico.

Canterbury reported that the resident had died in the previous 24 hours, as the center nears the grim milestone of at least 37 dead from COVID-19 at the Life Care Center nursing home in Kirkland, Wash., where the coronavirus epidemic first appeared in the United States.

The facility said 90 residents have tested positive for the disease, an increase of six since Tuesday. It did not say how many of those infected are showing symptoms and how many are not. A week ago, more than half of those confirmed with the disease showed no symptoms, but that percentage has dropped this week as more residents have become noticeably sick.

Canterbury said 35 residents have tested negative and are isolated from those infected with the disease. The center also reported that 25 health care workers have tested positive, which is largely unchanged over the past week.

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A bipartisan quartet of Virginia congressional representatives wants the federal government to distribute at least $25 billion in emergency relief to nursing homes and assisted living facilities that are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic.

The four representatives – Abigail Spanberger, D-7th; Denver Riggleman, R-5th; Jennifer Wexton, D-10th; and Morgan Griffith, R-9th – urged Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Wednesday to provide financial aid that will allow long-term care facilities to hire critical staff and protective gear to protect residents and employees from exposure to COVID-19.

"The price of inaction is alarming," they said in the joint letter to Azar.

The Virginia representatives asked that Azar dedicate at least $15 billion to nursing homes and $10 billion to assisted living facilities from the $2.2 trillion CARES Act approved by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump on March 27.

They want they aid to go to facilities that already have confirmed COVID-19 cases, including at least six in the Richmond area, as well as boost staffing and supplies to facilities that haven’t been affected yet to "help ensure that residents and staff are able to keep the virus out of their buildings."

"Skilled nursing facilities and assisted living communities have already made unprecedented investments in response to this crisis," the letter states. "The vast majority of these investments are directly tied to additional staffing and supplies to protect their staff and vulnerable patients from exposure to the virus and to contain the virus if it is introduced into a building."

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A fifth person has died from COVID-19 in the sprawling public health district anchored by Petersburg in the Tri-Cities area and Southside.

The Crater Health District confirmed the death on Wednesday, but was not able to provide details, including in which of eight localities the death occurred.

Tara Rose, spokeswoman for the health district, said the district has confirmed 66 cases of the disease caused by coronavirus, but none yet in congregate care facilities such as nursing homes.

"Currently, we’re not aware of any spread in nursing homes in our localities," Rose said.

More than one-third of the confirmed cases, 24, have occurred in Prince George County, which is home to the Fort Lee U.S. Army installation.

The district also reports 13 cases in Hopewell, nine in Petersburg, six in Sussex County, five in Greensville County, four in Emporia, three in Surry County and two in Dinwiddie County, the last of its localities to report a confirmed COVID-19 case.

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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