CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As nursing homes around the country continue to be the crisis within the crisis, outbreaks at long-term living facilities in Mecklenburg County aren't immune. Those who have family members living inside the facilities are growing concerned, feeling helpless as they hope for the best.
Mecklenburg County announced Friday that it will identify all COVID-19 outbreaks at long-term living facilities in the county, according to county Health Director Gibbie Harris.
Seven facilities were named on Friday, including The Social at Cotswold.
It's where Greg Morris's father lives.
"It's one of those, every day I think you know, I hope he stays out of harms way today," said Morris as he thought about his father, William.
William has lived at the facility for about four years, and overall has been happy with the service and care he's received.
At the end of February, Greg visited his dad for his 73rd birthday, not knowing he would be banned from seeing him for weeks, if not months, to come.
"It's a health pandemic," Greg said. "I understood that."
At first, Greg would receive update-emails from the staff at The Social at Cotswold, vaguely explaining the safety precautions they were putting in place to keep residents healthy, he said.
"I was at ease then," Greg said.
Then, during the second week of April, concern crept in.
"The alarming emails started to come. We have a positive test. I want to say the next day, another positive test," Greg explained.
On Wednesday, he and other residents at the facility received an email, explaining a spike in coronavirus cases. One resident had died, 14 other residents were were battling the virus, along with two staff members, according to the letter.
"A lot of emotions, helplessness, a little bit of fear, anxiety," he said as he explained what he was feeling.
William was tested. His son still remembers getting the call.
"When I saw the number, my heart jumped a bit because I knew, they don't call," Greg said.
William doesn't have the virus. But his son still has concerns.
He's worried his father, who suffers from dementia, may walk out from his room and be exposed. He said the resident doors at the facility don't lock and his dad is known to be social.
"It's not like I can drive up, pick him up and take him out," Greg said, feeling helpless.
In the letter sent to Greg and residents, Chief Experience Officer Tammy Marshall said, "We continue to gather new information and data every day, and we greatly appreciate the ongoing support and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Mecklenburg County Health Department in strengthening steps to help protect the community."
"We have also implemented isolation protocol as one of the many best practices we are prioritizing for care," the facility said in part in a statement to WCNC Charlotte.
While outside the facility, WCNC Charlotte saw some of the precautions being taken. A caregiver could be seen suiting up in personal protective equipment, including a face shield before going inside.
Greg knows the facility is likely doing their best to control the spread, but is still worried, knowing the numerous deadly outbreaks at other senior living facilities around North Carolina.
"I don't want for this to take my father's life," he said. "That's my daddy, he's 73, I love him [so] much, I don't want to lose him like this."