Courtesy of the Riverside website gallery

Figures released by the state Department of Public Health Thursday show that nursing home deaths now represent 58% of all COVID-related deaths.

Last week, nursing home deaths accounted for 55% of all total COVID-related deaths. This week, the number of positive cases also jumped from 4,814 to 6,008 and 160 of the state’s 215 nursing homes have at least one confirmed case of COVID-19.

The state of Connecticut is releasing nursing home information weekly on Thursdays.

Riverside Health and Rehab Center in East Hartford had the highest number of deaths at 47. Kimberly Hall North in Windsor has seen 40 deaths, while Abbott Terrace Health Center in Waterbury reported 38.

Litchfield Woods in Torrington has 126 positive cases, followed by Abbott Terrace Health Center in Waterbury with 121 cases. Branford Hills Health Care Center and Parkway Pavilion Health and Rehabilitation Center in Enfield, each had 93. Bride Brook Health & Rehabilitation Center in Niantic had 96 and Golden Hill Rehab Pavilion in Milford has 82, according to the data.

Matt Barrett, president and CEO the Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities, and Mag Morelli, president of LeadingAge Connecticut, said the data shows “that the deadly virus still has hold on our Connecticut nursing homes.”

“The statewide testing of all nursing home residents and the improved availability of PPE on the immediate horizon will strengthen these efforts,” Barrett and Morelli said. “Today’s announcement that next week’s report will include data on residents recovering from COVID-19 will also be helpful. These measures together hold a promise for better outcomes in the weeks ahead, but we are not able to say we are there yet.”

Gov. Ned Lamont announced Thursday that next week’s nursing home report will include data on recoveries.

Rob Baril, president of SEIU 1199, a union that represents 26,000 nursing home workers, said when the outbreak started there wasn’t any nursing home in the state with an adequate supply of personal protective equipment.

“We still have reports that workers have been using the same masks for days and not weeks, and at times they’ve had to use gowns for much longer than is required,” Baril said. However, the supply of PPE has improved.

Baril believes that the response to get the nursing homes what they need has been slow because of the population of workers who work in nursing homes.

“A lot of this has to do with who the freaking population of workers are,” Baril said Wednesday. “They are overwhelmingly women, black and Latina. Populations in society don’t have a lot of power.”

There are still other problems, like staffing shortages, that plagued many homes before the start of the outbreak.

Dorie Edwards, who hasn’t been to work since April 3 when she tested positive for COVID-19, said she doesn’t remember Pavilion Health and Rehabilitation Center in Enfield testing any patients until March 28. That was long after visitors were prohibited from visiting the home.

She said the following day someone brought in some homemade masks.

“We didn’t have hardly anything,” Edwards said.

She said she didn’t see an N95 mask at the facility before she got sick. She has been out of work since April 3.

Douglas Melanson, executive director at Parkway Pavilions, said the facility went from having no positive patients at the end of March to having 93 positive cases.

He said that’s because the facility started a “proactive testing regime that included testing asymptomatic patients.”

“So, while this larger testing pool yielded a higher number of positives, it also enabled Parkway’s staff to take an aggressive approach to cohorting and treating COVID-19,” Melanson said. “This aggressive approach has been a tremendous success, resulting in approximately 84 percent of all COVID positive residents being treated in place at the facility—rather than being sent elsewhere—and, critically, a lower mortality rate then most of the facilities in the North Central Connecticut region.”

The number of positive cases at Parkway Pavilions has remained at 93 over the past week.

In general, the virus has been difficult to contain at nursing homes and other congregate care settings.

Josh Geballe, Lamont’s chief operating officer, said as recently as this past weekend they are now sending teams into nursing homes to test everyone.

“We’re increasing testing in nursing homes as supplies have become more available,” Geballe said.