More than 42 percent of the 64 deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic in McLennan County have been connected to five long-term senior care facilities, according to newly released public records.
The figures show those nursing homes and assisted living facilities have reported 27 deaths, including six deaths since July 24. Such facilities have been closed to visitors since a state order in mid-March.
The Tribune-Herald obtained the facility-by-facility data from the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District data through a request under the Texas Public Information Act.
Texas Health and Human Services began releasing data on long-term care facilities in July after an opinion by Attorney General Ken Paxton deemed it public record, but the datasets have a lag time of more than two weeks.
The health district data shows that as of Aug. 7, 271 COVID-19 cases had been reported at 14 long-term care facilities in McLennan County. Health district officials last week said that counting staff, the facilities have had 328 cases at 16 facilities.
The case and fatality numbers are not surprising for a county like McLennan, given its size and overall COVID-19 rate, said Dr. Farley Verner, an infectious disease specialist who serves as McLennan County health authority.
He said outbreaks at nursing homes and assisted living facilities coincided with the overall spike in county cases between late June and mid-July, long after outbreaks had been reported in similar facilities across the state.
Now the local outbreaks at the facilities appear to be winding down, he said.
“Fortunately, it started to become an issue here relatively late,” he said. “Long-term care facilities here escaped the first go-round, due to the fact that facilities really got an early start on locking down, preventing the virus from coming in.”
But given the tendency of COVID-19 to be passed along by those without symptoms, it would be difficult to keep staff from inadvertently bringing the virus into facilities, Verner said.
“You can’t have a nursing home without staff,” he said. “The idea that you could keep it out of nursing homes, that’s really hard to do. I think the fact that we’ve had a lower proportion (of cases) in residential facilities than in bigger cities is due to the fact that in general facilities have done a good job trying to keep it out.
He added that the fatality numbers are a high proportion of the county’s total deaths because of the age and health conditions of facility residents. But he noted that cases in long-term care facilities account for a small part of the county’s total of 5,031 cases — about 0.5 percent.
The facility with the most reported cases was Woodland Springs Nursing Center, 1010 Dallas St., with 56 cases and eight deaths. The nursing home has a licensed capacity of 132. Woodland Springs officials did not return a phone call seeking comment Monday.
Lakeshore Village, which has a capacity of 228 residents, had 43 resident cases and seven deaths, including four since July 24. Officials did not return phone calls Monday.
Ridgecrest Retirement and Health Care, which operates nursing home and assisted living facilities at 1900 W. Highway 6, reported 34 cases and nine deaths. Officials did not return calls Friday and Monday.
Providence Village, 300 W. Highway 6, reported 50 cases but no deaths. The complex houses 233 residents, including 140 in skilled nursing care, 35 in assisted living and 58 in independent living arrangements, Ascension Providence officials said.
They said in an email last week that recent testing throughout the facility revealed that 37 staff members and 31 nursing center residents, along with one independent living resident, were positive for the virus.
“Any residents with a positive test or who are symptomatic are being isolated in a designated unit and treated in accordance with guidance from the CDC,” spokeswoman Danielle Hall said. “Those residents are cared for by designated, specially trained healthcare personnel who do not interact with other residents or units within the community. Residents who do not have symptoms related to COVID-19 or tested negatively are treated in a separate part of the building and are cared for by a different designated team to mitigate any possible exposure to COVID-19.”
Data: COVID-19 cases by long-term care facility, McLennan County
|Facility||Resident COVID-19 cases||Resident deaths||Resident deaths 7/24-8/7|
|Atrium of Bellmead||23||1||0|
|Waco Health and Rehab||15||0||0|
|Stoney Brook Assisted Living||4||0||0|
|Brook Oaks Senior Assisted Living||5||0||0|