Friday, May 08, 2020
NorCo Council Briefed on Covid-19
Six hundred thirty of these 854 "newly-discovered deaths" were in nursing homes. That's 73% !!!!
According to State House Speaker Mike Turzai, all but 11% of the large number of those who died in nursing homes had other underlying conditions. Their average age was 79.
Northampton County's Covid-19 dashboard shows that, as of yesterday, 100 of 551 nursing home residents with Covid-19 have expired. That's 68% of the County's Covid-19 fatalities. Also, 678 of the County's 2355 infections (29%) originate at the nursing homes.
Northampton County manages Gracedale, the largest nursing home in the state. Administrator Jennifer Stewart-King told County Council last night that the home is still accepting new residents, but only after two negative Covid-19 tests.
Executive Lamont McClure did secure the assistance of the Pennsylvania National Guard (PANG) at Gracedale, but they're leaving Monday. McClure told NorCo Council at last night's disastrous virtual meeting that PANG is also at seven other facilities throughout the state.
It's pretty clear that this virus is most virulent and deadly at nursing homes and long-term care centers. Instead of devoting resources there, Governor Tom Wolf and his pediatrician Secretary of Health put the entire state in lockdown. This put 1.6 million Pennsylvanians out of work. Their actions did nothing to stop deaths at the nursing homes, but have caused a lot of grief to people who lost their jobs. This decision was reached without discussing it with business leaders or unions, and without beefing up the state's antiquated online unemployment benefits system.
At last night's Council meeting, President Ron Heckman said he was "disappointed" by the state response. But much of the meeting was consumed with a discussion of Human Services workers who are "concerned" about contracting Covid-19 by being required to work at the Human Services Building, even though they receive hazard pay on top of their salaries.
McClure responded it's "very important to remember who comes first. The public comes first."
I'll have a full report about Council's lengthy and technology-challenged three-hour virtual meeting on Monday.