Five residents at two assisted living centers in Norton Shores have died from Covid-19, Muskegon County health officials reported Wednesday, April 22.
The deaths include four individuals from Seminole Shores Assisted Living Center and one person from DaySpring Assisted Living, Public Health—Muskegon County (PHMC) reported. Health officials did not provide further information about the individuals and did not specify when they died in a press statement issued Wednesday.
“PHMC appreciates the diligent efforts that both facilities have been making to follow all recommended strategies to protect their residents and employees in these high risk settings,” county health officials said in a press statement. “Both facilities have fully cooperated with PHMC as investigations of positive cases continue.”
The five deaths are nearly half of the 11 reported Covid-19 deaths in Muskegon County, where 173 coronavirus cases have been confirmed, according to the state. Covid-19 cases have been reported in long-term care, assisted living and adult foster care facilities in Muskegon County, according to county health officials. The officials did not specify the number of cases at these locations.
The announcement regarding the five deaths comes after the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services began mandating on April 21 that all long-term facilities—including assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and adult foster care facilities—submit daily reports to the state. The reports include information about current capacity/bed availability, personal protective equipment inventory, and the current number of Covid-19 cases and deaths within the facility.
“We know older Michiganders and those with underlying health conditions are at higher risk for more severe complications from COVID-19,” Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state chief medical executive and chief deputy for health, said in a press statement. “Enhanced and timely reporting of cases in long term care facilities, as well as proactive training and technical assistance will help protect these vulnerable individuals.”
Heritage Senior Communities, a network of assisted living facilities throughout Michigan that includes the Seminole Shores facility, said in an April 22 press release that, beginning last week, it began providing coronavirus testing for all assisted living residents and staff at its sites.
“Because we know that there are asymptomatic carriers of this virus, we feel that proactive testing is our best option for protecting our residents, our staff and their families at home,” said Scott Reender, the president of Heritage Property Management, the group that manages the Seminole Shores Assisted Living Center and other Heritage Senior Communities sites.
The Heritage Senior Communities press statement did not directly address the deaths of four of their residents. DaySpring Assisted Living did not issue a statement about the death of their resident, and they did not return a request for comment for this article.
Heritage Property Management also emphasized that “with the guidance of our local health department, we implemented a multi-level plan as the virus became more prevalent in our area.”
That plan stipulates that all non-essential visitors are prohibited from entering; visitors that are allowed include physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and hospice providers. Additionally, Heritage Property Management requires a daily health screening questionnaire and temperature checks for incoming staff, as well as a second temperature screening mid-shift.
At the Seminole Shores facility, and all of the Heritage Property Management sites, residents remain in their apartments, and all care, medications, meals, and activities are delivered to them directly.
“We understand this pandemic has caused a great deal of disruption and angst for every one of us, whether in our senior communities or in our own homes,” said Lauren Gowman, the director of operations at Heritage Property Management. “We want to assure you that we will continue to be transparent and communicative as we adapt our processes. The health and well-being of our residents and staff is our highest priority.”
According to April 21 data from Muskegon County, which had a recorded 165 Covid-19 cases as opposed to the 173 reported today by the state, 62.4 percent of the cases are female and 37.6 percent are male, according to health officials. Black residents in Muskegon County are being disproportionately affected by Covid-19. In a county where 81.1 percent of residents are white and 14.1 percent are black, 42.4 percent of the coronavirus cases have been black individuals and 33.3 percent are white, health officials reported.
County health officials reported that individuals between the ages of 50 and 59 have been the hardest hit by Covid-19; they represent the greatest percentage of cases at 21.8 percent. Those between the ages of 60 and 69 years old represent 16.4 percent of the cases, and 15.8 percent of the cases are individuals between the ages of 40 and 49. People between the ages of 30 and 39 make up 14.5 percent of the cases, 13.9 percent of the cases are individuals between the ages of 20 and 29, and those who are 80 and older constitute 9.1 percent of the cases. Five and a half percent of the cases are people between the ages of 70 and 79, and four individuals under the age of 19—2.4 percent of the cases—have tested positive for Covid-19.
For more information about Covid-19 in Muskegon County, please click here.