Editor’s note: This story has been amended with corrected data from the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
Nine care facilities in the state have had residents or staff with confirmed COVID-19 cases, one of which reported 36 people infected with the virus, according to the state health department.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health released the data to The Frontier on Friday afternoon after previously denying a reporter’s request because of privacy concerns.
“The administration and the state health dept. is committed to providing a high level of transparency so the public can make informed decisions about their health,” said Shelley Zumwalt, a spokeswoman for the health department, in an email.
“We are releasing this information on long term care facilities in the hope that is can provide relief for those with family members with loved ones who reside there.”
The health department identified at least one case at the following care centers:
- Brookhaven Extensive Care in Norman: 1 confirmed case
- Emerald Square in Oklahoma City: 1 confirmed case
- Franciscan Villa in Broken Arrow: 3 confirmed cases
- Grace Living Center: 33 confirmed cases in residents and three staff members; and four deaths
- Medical Park West Rehabilitation and Skilled Care: 1 confirmed case in a staff member
- New Hope Retirement Center in McAlester: 1 confirmed case
- PARCway Post Acute Recovery: 2 confirmed cases
- Skiatook Nursing Home: 2 confirmed cases in residents and 1 staff member
- The Villages at Southern Hill in Tulsa: 1 confirmed cases in a resident and 1 staff member
“The presence of this global pandemic is unlike any we have encountered in our state’s history and will require the public to act in ways that seem counter intuitive, but we ask that if you have a relative who resides in one of the facilities that has had positive case you do not move them from the facility,” Zumwalt said.
“To remove them at this time would present a dangerous public health situation and accelerate community spread of the virus by multiple magnitudes.”
The Oklahoma State Department of Health released data on the number of deaths linked to care facilities 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.
The health department reported eight deaths connected to care facilities on Friday evening.
The Grace Skilled Nursing and Therapy facility in Norman had 33 residents and three staff members who were infected with the virus, according to the health department. Four people have died. A spokeswoman for the facility earlier this week said they would not release further information to the public.
“It is our understanding that the Oklahoma State Department of Health has now chosen to release numbers in response to a Freedom of Information Act request served by the media,” said Theresa Green, a spokeswoman for the facility.
“The facility’s first obligation, however, remains with the residents and families that it serves; we will therefore continue to honor our commitment to them to provide relevant information to the public and specific information to state agencies but will not independently release specific numbers or comment upon individual cases.”
Green said in an email the facility implemented “exhaustive” testing in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus.
The facility, which has 136 beds, announced in a press release last week that an additional seven residents had tested positive for the virus, which brought the total of infected residents to nine at the time.
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.
Care facilities have been implementing their own policies designed to stop the spread of COVID-19.
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 38 people reported to have died from the virus in Oklahoma, 28 were over the age of 65, according the health department.
“We are working closely with nursing homes to ensure that every precaution is being taken to ensure spread of COVID is mitigated and those residents that test positive are isolated as their status is confirmed,” Zumwalt said. “If a staff member in a facility becomes symptomatic they are quickly removed from contact with residents and staff. We are in contact with the facilities to ensure they have adequate PPE and other supplies to follow CDC guidelines and ensure the residents are getting the highest level of care.”