Nearly 50% of state’s COVID-19 deaths are residents, staff at nursing, care homes

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By Anna Bauman, San Francisco Chronicle, May 8 2020

Men donning hazmat suits bring a body out of Gateway Care and Rehabilitation, located at 26660 Patrick Ave., on Wednesday, April 8, 2020, in Hayward, Calif. Six residents at the skilled nursing home in Hayward have died after being infected by the coronavirus in an outbreak at the facility that has infected 29 other residents and 24 staff members. Alameda County public health spokeswoman Neetu Balram confirmed the outbreak Wednesday afternoon.Officials are also monitoring an outbreak at East Bay Post-Acute Rehab in Castro Valley where seven people, including four staffers, have tested positive. Balram cautioned the number of infected persons at each facility could be updates and should be considered a “point-in-time” count. Health officials are tracing suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19 at long-term care facilities throughout the county, Balram said.Photo: Yalonda M. James / The Chronicle

Residents and staff in California skilled nursing and senior residential facilities account for nearly half of the state’s COVID-19 deaths, data shows.

The state departments of public health and social services released cumulative data on Friday revealing the extent to which the potentially deadly coronavirus has swept through congregate homes for the most vulnerable.

There were at least 11,344 confirmed cases among staff and residents at California’s skilled nursing facilities and residential care facilities for elderly as of Thursday, according to state data. These cases account for 18.1% of the state’s total 62,512 cases.

Meanwhile, 1,276 staff and residents at such facilities have died of the disease, making up 49.4% of the state’s 2,585 deaths as of Thursday.

Given those numbers — which the state said are “provisional” — an alarming 11.2% of people infected with the coronavirus at a nursing home has died.

The new information highlights the extreme vulnerability of seniors with chronic health conditions who live in congregate settings, and the staff who care for them.

“All data in this chart is provided to offer a snapshot of COVID-19 in skilled nursing facilities in California, and does not imply wrongdoing on the part of the facility,” state officials noted.

The hardest hit facility in the Bay Area was Gateway Care and Rehabilitation Center in Hayward, where 17 residents have died, according to the state data. Thirteen residents have died at Gordon Manor in Redwood City, where 25 others are infected. Eleven residents at Canyon Springs Post-Acute in San Jose have died, and 54 residents have tested positive.

At Windsor Vallejo Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 65 residents and 20 staff have tested positive. At least one but fewer than 11 residents there have died.

In Pleasant Hill, an assisted living facility called Chateau III has at least 32 cases among staff and 42 among residents.

Michael Connors of the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform said he thinks the death toll is higher than the reported numbers, calling the number of reported deaths “horrific.”

“COVID-19 is like a viral wildfire in nursing homes,” Connors said. “It’s way past time for all public health authorities in California to start treating it that way.”

Anna Bauman is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: Twitter: @abauman2