HENRICO COUNTY, Va. – The death toll at Canterbury Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center is now up to 39 residents, a spokesperson for the center confirmed Thursday.
The number of deaths at the center now exceed those of the Life Care Center of Kirkland, Washington, where a COVID-19 outbreak killed 37 residents.
"It is with heavy hearts that Canterbury reports the virus, in total, has claimed the lives of 39 COVID-19 positive patients, with six deaths over the past 24 hours," Canterbury Administrator Jeremiah Davis said. “Our hearts go out to the families of those who have passed, and we deeply feel the loss within our community.”
The center, located off Gayton Road in the West End, is the site of the largest COVID-19 cluster in Henrico.
There currently are 84 Canterbury residents who have tested positive for COVID-19. They are receiving treatment either at a regional hospital or, per guidance from the Henrico County Health Department, onsite at Canterbury.
Officials say many of the positive residents are asymptomatic, while other residents are experiencing COVID-19 related symptoms, ranging from severe to mild.
Thirty-five Canterbury residents have tested negative for COVID-19.
Additionally, 25 Canterbury healthcare workers have tested positive for COVID-19 and some test results remain outstanding. All Canterbury staff members have been tested, officials added.
"Outstanding test results and numbers of suspected cases are shifting, so to avoid confusion, Canterbury has opted to report only cases that have been confirmed by testing," a spokesperson said.
At the governor's news briefing Wednesday, State Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver was asked about the rising number of deaths at the Canterbury Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center.
Oliver praised Canterbury’s management, along with the local health department, saying they've done their best to isolate cases to keep down the spread, though clearly that has been difficulty.
A big concern now is trying to prevent what happened at Canterbury from happening at other Virginia nursing homes. Staff members tend to pick up shifts at multiple nursing homes, so Oliver says the state is contacting facilities if they might have an impacted employee.
“We did our due diligence in trying to contain that and I think we did a good job, it hasn’t spread to those other facilities,” said Oliver.
Governor Ralph Northam says he does expect, at some point, an investigation into the deadly outbreak at Canterbury.
“I think the day will come in the future when people can go back and assess the various things that were done and could have been done,” said Northam.
Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.
COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.
Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with sick people.Avoid non-essential travel.