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By James McAfee/The Knox County News-Courier—
Dr. Rodney Sholty, county health authority, reported eight deaths have been confirmed in Knox County from those testing positive for the COVID-19 virus, adding that there were 16 active cases for a total of 92.
Dr. Laura Hart had confirmed earlier that seven of the deaths came from residents of the Munday Nursing Center, adding that these residents had other medical conditions that made them more susceptible to the virus.
“They are isolated as soon as they test positive and moved to a COVID unit,” Dr. Hart said.
“Unfortunately, the majority of the deaths were people on hospice or pallative care where we were just making them comfortable and not treating them,” Dr. Sholty added.
Dr. Sholty made a call to the Brazos Valley Care Home on Sunday and reported that that facility had no positive cases. He also said that a recent testing in Knox City had only one positive case out of 66 who were tested. “That’s a positive,” he said.
Since July 6, the number of deaths from COVID-19 in Texas nursing homes has more than doubled, accounting for a third of the state’s total, according to a report from the Texas Tribune.
Texas health officials have said infected staff members brought the virus to work with them. Once inside a facility, it spreads “like a wildfire,” Phil Wilson, the acting executive commissioner for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, said during a webinar earlier this month.
Despite the recent announcement that some nursing facilities may allow families to visit in Texas, most are fearful of allowing any visitors and wary of putting more pressure on their staff, who will have to supervise every minute of the visits, said Jude Goodson, former executive director of Orchard Park at Southfork, an assisted living facility south of Houston.
Goodson said the pandemic has put facilities under tremendous financial pressure because of expenses like protective equipment for staff and technology to keep the residents in touch with their families. Meanwhile, revenues have dropped because of fewer new admissions and more deaths, she said.
“With severe financial issues, where is that extra staff (to manage visitations) going to come from?” Goodson said.
The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services started in late July sending devices to nursing homes that can perform antigen tests on the spot within minutes, but these tests tend to also create more false negative results than other kinds of tests.
“I don’t see how a nursing facility can test staff weekly without point-of-care testing (with the federally supplied devices),” said Patty Ducayet, the state’s long-term care ombudsman.