Dr. Wilson: Most COVID-19 deaths in Jefferson Co. happened in nursing homes

Concerns about spike in COVID-19 cases

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) – Nearly half of the COVID-19 deaths in Alabama have happened in long-term care facilities, according to data released by the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH). In Jefferson County, the percentage is higher, said Dr. Mark Wilson.

“40% of the deaths are in the general population, so that just gives you an idea,” explained Dr. Wilson, Health Officer, Jefferson County Department of Health (JCDH).

While Dr. Wilson did not give specifics, he said there have been some homes in the county “where a significant portion of the home had some positive cases.”

“We are doing everything we can to assist the nursing homes, the hospitals are stepping up to do what they can to assist the nursing homes, this is a very high priority and a lot of people are working on it,” explained Dr. Wilson.

Dr. Wilson said when one case of COVID-19 is found in a nursing home, everyone living and working in the home is tested. He said roughly 20-30% of the positive cases in Jefferson County over the last few weeks have been nursing home related.

“Overall, about 21% of the positive since we started testing are related to nursing homes,” said Dr. Wilson.

Statewide, about 16% of cases have been linked to a resident or employee of a long-term care facility.

ADPH is not releasing the names of the facilities where COVID-19 infections and deaths have happened and have denied WBRC FOX6’s public records request asking for this information.

Wednesday, Alabama AARP sent a formal request to Governor Kay Ivey, State Health Office Dr. Scott Harris and Commissioner Jean Brown, Alabama Department of Senior Service.

The letter said in part:

“Transparency of information on COVID-19 cases is critical to fighting the disease. AARP urges the state to publicly release the names of long-term care facilities with confirmed COVID19 cases and deaths among residents and staff on a daily basis on the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) website’s coronavirus dashboard. During the current public health crisis, this information is essential to protect residents and for families to make safe and informed choices about where their loved ones will receive care. There are more than 31,000 residents in Alabama’s nursing homes, and Alabamians deserve accurate and consistent data.”

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