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Long-term care facilities concerned about increase in COVID cases

Published: Jul. 14, 2021 at 4:56 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - As COVID cases continue the rise in Region 8, we’ve been reaching out to hospitals in the area to see if they are taking any steps, especially in long-term care facilities.

At St. Bernards, over 90 percent of all residents are fully vaccinated and they don’t have a single COVID case among their residents as of July 14. Despite that, leaders are worried about the Delta variant hitting them.

Director of Senior Services and Housing Brian Rega says there have been discussions within the state about potentially closing off facilities to visitors again, but no decisions have been made.

He says they provide updated numbers to the Arkansas Department of Health daily and they are waiting for updated guidance. Right now, there are no changes to the current policy, which is concerning to Rega.

“Because people haven’t received their shots and they want to come and visit, it’s pretty serious,” Rega said. “We really are paying close attention as to who’s coming in our house and where they’ve been.”

Rega says he doesn’t want the cases to rise to a point where they have to close their facilities to visitors again, but it is something they are prepared to do if it gets to that point.

“We are prepared -- just like any other long-term care facility would be -- we’re prepared to shut it down again if we have to, and that’s the sad thing,” Rega said. “We don’t want to do that, but of the CDC, the Office of Long-term Care, Department of Health says ‘close them down,’ we have to close them down.”

He says he’s listened to the advice of medical experts, he knows that you can still get COVID-19 even if you’ve been vaccinated. Even though the majority of residents are vaccinated and the possibility of getting hospitalized is reduced with the vaccine, he is still concerned about a potential outbreak.

Especially with those who are most vulnerable to the virus.

We also reached out to the Arkansas Health Care Association about a potential change in visitations. Executive Director Rachel Bunch sent us this statement:

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