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COVID-19 cases continue to rise in NC nursing homes

Half of Mecklenburg County's deaths are connected to long-term care facilities.

CORNELIUS, N.C. — New numbers from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reveal COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise at long-term care facilities.

According to Mecklenburg County, there are COVID-19 "outbreaks" at 12 long-term care facilities.

DHHS defines an outbreak in a congregate living setting "...as two or more laboratory-confirmed cases. An outbreak is considered over if there is not evidence of continued transmission within the facility."

Kathy Chenette said her 81-year-old mother, Joan, was temporarily staying at Autumn Care of Cornelius as she recovered from hernia surgery.

While at the facility, Chenette said her mother was diagnosed with COVID-19.

She decided to pull her mom out of the facility before her scheduled discharge.

As of May 5, the facility had 60 confirmed cases and 17 deaths.

"I think it was a wake-up call for her," Chenette said when her mom first learned of the deaths. "I don't think she really realized how serious and how close to dying she was."

She said her mother has recovered from the virus.

"It was a reinforcement to me that I made the right decision because I wasn't sure I would be capable of taking care of her," Chenette said.

Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris said half of the county's COVID-19 deaths are connected to long-term care facilities, and nearly all those who died were at least 60-years-old.

RELATED: Mecklenburg County data shows nearly half of COVID-19 deaths stem from long-term care facilities

She said the county is working to make sure there are no more outbreaks at other facilities.

"That proactive outreach includes looking at their staffing capacity, their protective equipment capacity and their testing capacity," Harris said.

North Carolina DHHS is also partnering with ECU's School of Nursing to match nurses and nursing assistants with long-term care facilities in desperate need of more workers.

South Carolina announced Wednesday it plans to test every resident and staff at nursing homes across the state.

In a letter on its website, Saber Healthcare Group, which owns Autumn Care, said it's restricting visitors, and it's "...working to equip facilities with important tools to appropriately focus on the prevention of respiratory illnesses."

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