Gregg County reports its first COVID-19 death, a female nursing home resident in her 70s | Coronavirus

Jimmy Daniell Isaac jisaac@news-journal.com

The death of a nursing home resident Friday night has marked the first COVID-19-related fatality in Gregg County.

Dr. Lewis Browne, the county’s health authority, said the resident, a woman who was in her 70s, died at a local hospital. She had been hospitalized about a week ago after showing signs that she might have had a stroke, Browne said. Doctors then discovered she had COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Browne didn’t disclose the nursing facility where the woman resided but said health authorities were working to find any staff members or visiting caregivers who have contracted the virus but haven’t shown any symptoms.

The death came three days after the county announced at least six clients at Highland Pines Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Longview, as well as two others tied to unidentified assisted living centers, had been diagnosed with COVID-19.

”Of course, you want to find the people that are positive, and then if they start to get sick, you have to go more strenuous on how you restrict any access to that patient and that patient’s access to anybody else in the nursing home,” Browne said. “We just have to be more strenuous on it.”

“We had gone to the nursing homes early and got them to shut down and do a bunch of things, and that worked for a long time,” Browne said. “I think that’s why we had a delay in nursing home patients” with the disease.

Staff and visiting caregivers come and go from skilled nursing facilities and can be exposed to the virus while in the community, “and then can unfortunately bring it in symptomatically and asymptomatically” he said. And that is probably how that person got it. She likely had it when they went to the hospital, but we don’t know that for a fact.”

Patients in nursing homes are physically distanced from other patients as much as possible except when a care provider has to get close to them, he said.

“We’ve done a lot of due diligence. We have to do more due diligence and make sure that people in the nursing homes are really doing all of the things that we’ve asked them to do, which is take their temperatures, be very protective of these people to keep people apart as best they can,” Browne said. “We keep doing the same things we’re doing but we just have to reiterate to those people that we’ve got to do it even better. Unfortunately, once it is somewhere, it can spread.”

Jimmy Daniell Isaac covers the city of Longview and Gregg County. Follow him on Twitter: @jimmyisaaclives.  


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