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Nevada National Guard helping at nursing homes during pandemic

Updated April 22, 2020 - 8:59 am

The Nevada National Guard has stepped in to help combat the surge in coronavirus cases at nursing homes and assisted living centers.

“The National Guard has worked with the Nevada Department of Health to start going and looking at the nursing homes and going with investigators and doing auxiliary spot checks to make sure that they’re clean, that they’re healthy,” Maj. Gen. Ondra Berry, the guard’s adjutant general, said at a news conference Tuesday with Gov. Steve Sisolak. “In the event that we can see a cluster, we have the ability to send teams in to help eradicate that.”

Nursing homes and assisted living centers account for more than 16 percent of reported COVID-19 deaths in Nevada, according to state data.

The Department of Health and Human Services posted the information on its nvhealthresponse.nv.gov website in a new tracking tool for institutions run or regulated by the state. As of Monday, it listed 43 sites across the state that have been infected with the virus — 33 in Clark County, seven in Washoe County, two in Carson City and one in White Pine County.

One facility, Silver Hills Health Care Center in Las Vegas, had 52 confirmed cases of COVID-19, more than five times as many as it had on Friday. Forty-five residents and seven staff members have tested positive at the skilled nursing home; one resident died.

The hardest-hit facility in in the state is Willow Springs Center, a behavioral inpatient facility in Reno, with 58 cases: 36 among residents and 22 among staff. One staff member has died.

Lakeside Health & Wellness Suites in Reno, with 46 cases, has had the most deaths, with eight: seven residents and one staff member. That was four more deaths than the facility reported Friday, and one more than Monday.

According to the early data compiled by state investigators, poor hand-washing hygiene has emerged as the No. 1 factor in the spread of COVID-19 in skilled nursing homes and similar communal care facilities in Nevada.

At least 8,496 deaths nationwide have been linked to outbreaks in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, according to The Associated Press, which based its figure on local media reports and state health departments.

“The National Guard is going in to work with our nursing homes to make sure that they are clean, that they have adequate PPE (personal protective equipment) and that they have sufficient staff on hand,” Sisolak said. “Those are Nevadans going up above and beyond, so thank you.”

Contact Briana Erickson at berickson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5244. Follow @ByBrianaE on Twitter.

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