More coronavirus deaths reported in Jackson-area retirement community


JACKSON COUNTY, MI — A Jackson-area retirement community has experienced an increase in deaths related to the novel coronavirus since an outbreak was first identified there in September.

John Ganton’s Countryside Care Center in Summit Township has reported 49 cases of COVID-19 in residents and 14 deaths from the virus since the pandemic began in March, according to data reported to the state as of Oct. 8. It has also reported 40 cases in staff.

Those figures are up from one death on Sept. 30, and 38 cases in staff. The number of COVID-19 cases in residents has stayed the same, the database shows.

“We are continuing to see positive cases but are working to the full extent possible to contain them and protect our residents and staff,” Countryside’s Director of Operations Crystal Caldwell said in an email Friday, Oct. 9.

The Jackson County Health Department declined to comment on the reported cases, citing privacy of patients and the organization, but said mitigation efforts have been established. Health Officer Rashmi Travis previously said infection control methods like using additional personal protection equipment, eliminating visitations and establishing different staffing plans were put in place.

“We are partnering with the organization to put mitigation strategies in place and the organization has been cooperative in putting measures in place to reduce transmission and reduce risk,” Travis said in an email on Friday.

Nursing homes are considered particularly susceptible to coronavirus outbreaks because the disease affects those with related pre-existing conditions more, such as diabetes or difficulty breathing, and many people living in one setting allows the virus to transmit faster. In Michigan, 8,775 cases have been identified in residents of long-term care facilities and more than 2,100 deaths have been reported, according to state data from Oct. 8.

In Jackson County, 29.2% of COVID-19 positive cases are in residents at least 60 years old, according to the health department. There have been 1,260 COVID-19 cases and 48 deaths in Jackson County residents since the pandemic began. Statewide data shows there is a seven-day average of 3.5% positivity rate, or the rate at which COVID-19 tests come back positive.

Countryside began weekly testing of staff and residents “whenever a positive result came back,” Caldwell previously said. She said screening for respiratory illness and elevated temperatures are done multiple times per shift.

COVID-19 PREVENTION TIPS:

In addition to washing hands regularly and not touching your face, officials recommend practicing social distancing, assuming anyone may be carrying the virus.

Health officials say you should be staying at least 6 feet away from others and working from home, if possible.

Use disinfecting wipes or disinfecting spray cleaners on frequently-touched surfaces in your home (door handles, faucets, countertops) and carry hand sanitizer with you when you go into places like stores.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has also issued executive orders requiring people to wear face coverings over their mouth and nosewhile in public indoor and crowded outdoor spaces. See an explanation of what that means here.

Additional information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

For more data on COVID-19 in Michigan, visit https://www.mlive.com/coronavirus/data/

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