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Virus outbreak at Thomson-Hood has claimed 13

The coronavirus outbreak at Thomson-Hood Veterans Center in Wilmore has claimed the lives of 13 residents and infected at least 138 residents and staff, but the number of new infections has slowed in recent days.

According to the latest report on long-term care facilities by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, only one new case involving a resident and three involving employees were reported Monday, Nov. 2, on the kycovid19.ky.gov website.

Twenty-seven residents and 45 staff have recovered from the virus, and no employees have died of it.

As of Monday, a total of 80 residents and 58 staff have tested positive for the virus.

The outbreak began around Oct. 2, when two employees tested positive, and then several residents in the part of the nursing home where those two worked began testing positive.

Prior to that, there had been three workers who had tested positive, all of them in September.

As soon as the outbreak occurred, the veterans who showed symptoms were transferred to the U.S. Veterans Affairs hospital in Lexington, where some later died. Those who tested positive but showed no symptoms were isolated at the state veterans home, according to the home’s director and staff of the state Department of Veterans Affairs, which operates Thomson-Hood and three other state veterans homes.

Extra staff were brought in from other facilities to help deal with the situation.

Those centers have also had infections, but not on the scale of Thomson-Hood. At the Paul E. Patton Veterans Center in Hazard, one patient has died, and 10 residents and eight staff have been infected. At the Joseph E. Ballard and Carl M. Brashear veterans centers in Hanson and Radcliff, respectively, no residents have been infected, but seven employees have at Hanson and four have at Radcliff.

As soon as the outbreak in Wilmore occurred, Mark Bowman, executive director of Thomson-Hood and Dean Stoops, deputy commissioner of the Department of Veterans Affairs gave interviews, but within a few days, Lisa Aug, a spokesperson for the DVA, said staff had been prohibited from talking with the media and that all information from then on had to come from the governor’s daily televised briefings.

Gov. Andy Beshear mentioned the Thomson-Hood outbreak in one of his daily briefings and later issued a statement.

Last week, Jessamine County Schools and the local Health Department issued a joint media release explaining that students would continue in-person classes despite the county entering the critical or “red zone” designation of 25 or more cases per 100,000 population because that classification was mostly due to the outbreak at the veterans home.

But Vicky Sandford, an English and special education teacher at East Jessamine High School, said this week she thinks the outbreak at the nursing home could affect the schools.

“My uncle was put there in January. He got COVID in September. He didn’t get it from another patient. He got it from a worker … that came in from the community. Those people are coming in and out, they’re interacting with the students that we teach, and I think those numbers should be counted,” she said.

Anyone who has a family member who is a resident or employee at Thomson-Hood and who wants to talk about the situation there may call The Jessamine Journal at 859-759-0015 and leave a message for a reporter or email randy.patrick@bluegrassnewsmedia.com.

About Randy Patrick

Randy Patrick is a reporter for Bluegrass Newsmedia, which includes The Jessamine Journal. He may be reached at 859-759-0015 or by email at randy.patrick@bluegrassnewsmedia.com.

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