A state-owned long-term nursing care facility for veterans near Lexington, Kentucky, is in the grip of a lethal outbreak of the coronavirus.
Eighty-six veterans have tested positive for the virus at the Thomson-Hood Veterans Center since October, and 24 have died, according to Gov. Andy Beshear. Forty-eight of the veterans have recovered, five are in the hospital, and nine are being treated at the center.
Among the staff, 63 have tested positive. Fifty-two of them have recovered, and 11 cases are still active, Beshear said in a news conference on Friday. He said that the outbreak, the center’s first, was the result of community spread and that it began when three veterans and seven staff members tested positive last month. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provided medical staff to assist at the center.
The governor pleaded with Kentuckians to do what they could to limit the virus’ spread. “This is the toughest spot we’ve been in thus far,” Beshear said. “You must do your part and folks, this is now to the point where you need to be wearing your mask simply to protect yourself. It will also help others around you, but if you are not wearing a mask, you are putting yourself at personal risk of this virus.”
Over the past week, the state has logged an average of 2,272 cases per day, an increase of 37% from the average two weeks earlier. Since the start of the pandemic, Kentucky has had 135,855 coronavirus cases and 1,729 deaths, according to a New York Times database.
The spread of the virus within Thomson-Hood, in Wilmore, Kentucky, is the latest example of the vulnerabilities at veterans’ homes around the country. Eighty-one have died of the coronavirus at a veterans center in Paramus, New Jersey, and at least 76 residents died of an outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, Massachusetts, leading to two former administrators being charged with criminal neglect.
“We are still battling,” a post from Monday on Thomson-Hood’s Facebook page said. “Keep praying for our incredible, warrior staff and our precious veterans.”