Nursing homes and long care facilities hit the hardest with COVID-19 in the Lehigh Valley

Written by on May 20, 2020

Nursing homes and long care facilities hit the hardest with COVID-19 in the Lehigh Valley

By Jen Rehill

May 20, 2020

More than 1,500-hundred residents and staff at nursing homes and long term care facilities have tested positive for COVID-19 in Lehigh and Northampton counties since the start of the outbreak, according to new data released Tuesday, May 19.

As WLVR’s Jen Rehill reports, county-run facilities have been among the hardest hit. 

Pennsylvania health officials have come under fire for the rapid spread of COVID-19 at nursing homes, and refusing to release information about cases at local facilities. But now the state is making that data available. 

When asked why it wasn’t released sooner, State Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine had this response.

“As I mentioned before it is actually the responsibility of the facilities to let family members know about cases in long-term care living facilities and to keep the families updated,” said Levine.

Levine faced questions earlier this month when it was learned that her mother had moved out of a facility and into a hotel room after the pandemic hit Pennsylvania. 

In the Lehigh Valley, the largest outbreak has been at the Gracedale nursing home run by Northampton County — with 245 cases among residents and staff— and 44 deaths. ManorCare’s private facilities were also hard hit, with nearly 600 reported cases across six sites in Lehigh and Northampton counties, and at least 86 deaths.

The Health Department still held back some information from Tuesday’s release, redacting data from facilities reporting one to four infections or deaths. Officials cited patients’ right to privacy for the decision.


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