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Dozens of long-term care facilities in Maricopa County have COVID-19 cases

According to the Maricopa County Department of Public Health’s Friday numbers, 60 long-term care facilities in the county have at least one positive case of COVID-19

MARICOPA COUNTY, Ariz. — Long-term care facilities are some of the hardest hit when it comes to COVID-19.

According to the Maricopa County Department of Public Health’s Friday numbers, 60 long-term care facilities in the county have at least one positive case of COVID-19 in a resident or staff member. That number is up from 32 facilities on Wednesday.

In total, the department says 40 out of 70 people who have died from the virus in the county, as of Friday, were related to long-term care facilities.

“We know that these are the people who are most vulnerable to severe disease and why we’re really putting our efforts, focusing on keeping them safe,” said Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, Maricopa County’s medical director.

Pennington Gardens in Chandler is an assisted living facility with cases of the virus. The facility told 12 News back on April 7 four residents and one employee tested COVID-19 positive. Now, according to communication sent to resident’s families, 27 of their residents have tested positive and 12 have died.

“They’re living in a petri dish,” John Scanlan said.

Scanlan’s wife, Karen lives in Pennington Gardens, which has him concerned.

“She’s living in an area with a bunch of infected people,” Scanlan said. “I guarantee there’s going to be more.”

Across the country, other facilities are dealing with similar issues. In New York, multiple nursing homes have at least 20 deaths each, and in New Jersey, 17 bodies were found in a makeshift morgue at a facility overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases.

This week, Pennington Gardens said, in another communication sent to resident’s families, that the county health department is helping them test people who are asymptomatic.

Something Scanlan said should have been done from the beginning.

“If They had started that when they got the first confirmed case, they could’ve saved lives,” Scanlan said.

If you have a loved one in a long-term care facility, the county and AARP have recommended asking the facility about COVID-19 cases and what’s being done to keep residents safe.

A list of questions AARP put together fOr loved ones to ask can be found here.

Assisted living communities are a different situation; they're governed by the states. There have been no sweeping rules covering their management during the outbreak, but the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living, the industry trade group, is asking its facilities to follow the federal government's guidance for nursing homes.

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