11 coronavirus deaths reported at Anderson nursing home

Editor’s note: This article has been updated.

Eleven residents of a nursing home in Anderson have died from COVID-19 while the overall state toll from the disease caused by the coronavius rose Tuesday by 34 to 173, state health officials said.

In addition to the 11 dead at the Bethany Pointe Health Campus in Anderson, three workers there have been hospitalized, including two in critical condition, Indiana Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said during a state news briefing on the pandemic.

The state is helping to transfer residents there without COVID-19 symptoms to another skilled nursing home, Box said.

She said an outbreak in a nursing home had been her biggest fear from the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is a heartbreaking situation and illustrates what a brutal toll the COVID-19 can take on our most vulnerable populations. Unfortunately, this will not be the last outbreak of this kind,” Box said.

“I was stunned and saddened by the news of the multiple deaths at Bethany Pointe caused by the coronavirus,” Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, said in a statement Tuesday. “My sympathies certainly go out to the families of all involved, and I remain very concerned about the well-being of the remaining residents and staff.

“I have been in contact with ISDH officials who advised me of the actions they are taking to investigate these tragic deaths to help prevent further illness among residents and staff at the facility. We must have confidence that ISDH will take the appropriate steps to address what has happened in this tragic situation, so I will be staying in contact with health officials to make sure I’m aware of updates as they occur. This way I can best inform the families of my district.”

Rep. Melanie Wright (D-Yorktown), also issued a statement Tuesday on the situation. “My heart is heavy after learning about the 11 seniors who died and the others in critical condition at their long-term care facility in Madison County due to an outbreak of COVID-19. I am thinking of them and their family members who have a lot of questions and are grieving without having the chance to say goodbye to their loved one.

She said she would remain in touch with state and local health officials as well as the nursing home administration. “Working together, we will address this outbreak and help keep employees, health care providers and other residents at the facility safe.”

In southern Indiana, three residents of nursing home in Mitchell have died from COVID-19 and 19 others there have tested positive for the disease, the facility said last week.

Nursing homes across the country have been on lockdown for weeks under federal orders to protect their frail, elderly residents from coronavirus, but a wave of deadly outbreaks nearly every day since has suggested the measures including a ban on visits and daily health screenings of staffers either came too late or were not rigorous enough.

Gov. Eric Holcomb issued a new two-week stay-at-home order for Indiana residents Monday and extended for two weeks limits on in-person activity at state government offices and restrictions on restaurants, bars and nightclubs.

The new order states retail businesses that provide “necessities of life” may remain open but should limit the number of customers in the establishment at any given time; implements special hours for elderly and other vulnerable populations; and limits hours of operation to restock and clean.

All other retail business may remain open if they restrict sales to online or call-in ordering with delivery or curbside pickup, said the order, which took effect at 11:59 p.m. Monday.

All campgrounds will be closed except for those that use recreational vehicles or cabins as their primary residence, Holcomb said. State parks remain open to daily visitors.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are among those particularly susceptible to more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover.

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