Of the 65 COVID-19 deaths in Howard County, the vast majority have come from long-term care facilities.
The Indiana State Department of Health recently began collecting and publishing COVID-related data from 763 Indiana long-term care facilities, and the latest data showed at least 49 of the local deaths have come from area long-term care facilities.
“For the COVID deaths that have crossed my desk, the majority of them have been nursing home patients,” Howard County Coroner Dr. Steve Seele said. “Every one of the nursing homes are being affected. I’ve had calls out to every one of the nursing homes in the area.”
However, according to Seele, the number of deaths from long-term care facilities could be even higher, as some residents of long-term living facilities are transferred to hospital intensive care units or the COVID-19 units in area hospitals, meaning they would not be listed as death at their former living facilities.
Currently, North Woods Village has the highest number of deaths at 33, which is the third highest in the state and tied with one other Hoosier facility, which also had 33 deaths. Century Villa follows with eight deaths, and Bloom at Kokomo has had five. Kokomo Home Healthcare, Primrose, and Golden Living all have reported fewer than five deaths. Aperion has neglected to report any data to the state as of press time.
In reporting numbers to the state, facilities that have had fewer than five deaths can report it as such instead of specifying a number. In these cases, the Perspective counted the deaths at those facilities as one.
Howard County Commissioner Paul Wyman estimated the long-term care facility deaths in Howard County to be at 51 as of Sunday night.
Brent Waymire, executive director at Bloom of Kokomo, said the virus has been tough on everyone. As cases continue to rise in Howard County, Indiana, and across the country, Waymire has once again restricted visitors at the facility after lifting restrictions earlier this summer, and employees continue to be monitored closely for signs of the virus.
“We continue to monitor all our associates and residents,” said Waymire. “We temp all associates coming into work and leave, and if there’s a variance they report that to us. If it’s above 99 degrees, then they’re further evaluated as to whether or not they’re showing signs of COVID. We’ve in-serviced all of our staff on the various signs and symptoms. All of our residents we temp and take their oxygen saturations three times a day to monitor and see if there’s any variance there.”
Bloom has had 13 positive cases and five deaths among residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, Bloom of Kokomo has zero positive cases, said Waymire.
The only local long-term care facility that hasn’t submitted data to the state is Aperion Care Kokomo.
According to Paul Chaisson, the executive director of Aperion Care Kokomo, there have been no deaths at the facility. He stated the facility has had one resident and two staff members test positive for COVID-19 but that Aperion is currently COVID-free.
Chasisson said he intended to get the data to the state.
“There was something that needed to be uploaded to the state's program,” Chaisson said. “We just got the data to the state. Had we got it done by the ISDH timeline, it would be available.”
However, the data from Aperion still did not appear on the state’s website as of Monday.
According to data from the Indiana State Department of Health, 56.9 percent of local deaths have been in those age 80 and older, and 18.5 percent of deaths have been in ages 70 to 79. Age demographics are unknown for 6.2 percent of the local deaths, according to the ISDH.
Howard County's death per capita rate of 78.7 deaths per 100,000 residents is the fourth highest in the state. The only Indiana counties with higher death rates per capita are Orange County (122.5), Decatur County (120.5), and Greene (106.5)