5 residents of long-term care facilities have died from COVID-19, state reports

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Grace Skilled Nursing and Therapy in Norman, where at least two residents have died after becoming infected with COVID-19. BRIANNA BAILEY/The Frontier
Five of the 34 Oklahomans reported to have died from COVID-19 were residents of long-term care facilities, according to the state health department. 

The Oklahoma State Department of Health released the numbers for the first time in a report on Thursday evening. The daily reports, which also include data on hospital resources, were mandated by an executive order signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt last month. 

Four of the deaths were in Cleveland County and one was in Oklahoma County.

However, the health department, citing privacy concerns, has declined to say how many facilities have confirmed cases or where they are located. 

The agency told The Frontier last week that it had either confirmed, investigated or was in the process of investigating suspected COVID-19 cases in eight facilities.

There have been at least 10 confirmed cases of the virus in at least two Oklahoma care facilities, officials have said.

At least two residents at Grace Skilled Nursing and Therapy in Norman died from COVID-19 in March. Both patients tested positive for the virus and were hospitalized at the time, according to a news release, and seven others were confirmed to have the virus. A spokeswoman for the facility this week said additional residents had tested positive since then, but they would not release further information to the public.

A resident of Ponca City Nursing and Rehabilitation tested positive for COVID-19 on March 17. The woman was hospitalized and expected to be discharged to her family, officials said at the time. The patient was the first known positive case in a nursing home.

Stitt ordered a “safer at home” policy last month, which required vulnerable populations in Oklahoma, such as those over the age of 65, to stay home except for essential errands like grocery or pharmacy trips. Under the order, visits to nursing homes and long-term care facilities are suspended until further notice.

Across the state, there are hundreds of nursing homes, assisted living centers and other facilities, and medical professionals say the virus is much more dangerous for seniors and those with underlying medical conditions.

In a long-term care and nursing facility in Washington, at least 25 people associated with the facility died after being infected with COVID-19 and others were hospitalized.

Of the 34 people reported to have died from the virus in Oklahoma, 24 were over the age of 65, according the health department. 

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Kassie McClung

Staff writer

Kassie McClung joined The Frontier in May 2016. She reports on health, criminal justice and other state issues. Kassie holds a bachelors degree in multimedia journalism from Oklahoma State University. She likes dogs, maps and data. She can be reached at Kassie@readfrontier.com or 918-935-1044. Follow her on Twitter @KassieMcClung.
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