(LITITZ, Pa-LititzDailyNews.com) – The number of individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Lititz has risen 31% in a week, according to statistics released by the Pennsylvania Department of Health statistics at noon today, Tuesday, April 28.
The number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the Lititz zip code is now 93, which shows an increase of 22 positive tests from the level where it was a week ago at on April 21, when the state began releasing the data on a drilled-down level. Previously the state had only published data on the county level.
Since the state only releases data down to the zip code level, these figures include any residents who have tested positive that reside in Warwick Township, parts of Manheim Township, and other smaller communities in the 17543 area, not just in Lititz Borough. It does not include any probable cases.
It should be noted that the statistics reflect COVID+ test results in the zip code 17543 reported to the state, and communicated by the state, and may not reflect the true number of individuals who are COVID+ in the Lititz community. The actual number of infected individuals may be higher.
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Monday’s report from the state showed an increase of 18 cases of coronavirus, which correlates with the number of reported cases in an outbreak at Luther Acres in Lititz Borough that has killed two residents, which was reported to the public on Friday, but it is unknown if the correlation is coincidental.
Since the state has so far refused to release detailed information about which long-term care facilities have known cases of coronavirus, it’s impossible to know. When asked yesterday if the state was going to release the names of facilities with outbreaks, Dr. Levine repeated the same reply given by state officials for weeks: “we’re looking into that.”
While long-term care residents positive for COVID account for some of the Lititz total, staff at these facilities who live outside of the 17543 zip would not be included in the Lititz numbers.
Many who have loved ones in care communities are upset about the lack of communication regarding the COVID-19 status inside the facilities.
“It’s the responsibility of the facilities to notify the loved ones,” said Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine yesterday.
The AARP recently sent a letter to Gov. Wolf urging the “DOH make public the names of nursing facilities with confirmed COVID-19 cases.” So far, the state has not done so.
“Nursing homes are required to use an electronic patient safety system to notify the state about serious infections, including respiratory illnesses, within 24 hours of identifying them,” reads the letter from Bill Johnston-Walsh, state director of the AARP.
During a press call today, the Governor Wolf was asked by a reporter to update regarding the state’s response the demand by AARP for transparency to identify the facilities with cases and the number of deaths at each specific facility.
“You identified a real problem,” Gov. Wolf said in reply to the question, yet failed to provide the update requested. “Long-term care facilities are actually always a concern, it’s why they’re regulated so directly by the Department of Health. That regulation and oversight has never been more important than it is during this pandemic.”
The governor then shifted his response to measures taken so far to protect staff and residents, and did not state any intention to provide increased transparency. According to the AARP, over 160,000 Pennsylvanians reside in a long-term or assisted living facility.
The lack of transparency from the state regarding COVID-19 at nursing homes may soon be resolved on a federal level with new reporting rules expected to be implemented soon.
LititzDailyNews.com has reported that Lititz long-term care facilities which have publicly reported positive cases, and in some instances, resident deaths are:
- Brethren Village: 22 cases (11 resident, 11 staff), 4 resident deaths (last updated 4/22)
- Luther Acres: 18 cases (15 residents, 3 staff), 2 resident deaths (last updated 4/24)
- Landis Homes: 1 residents, 1 death (last updated 4/24)
- United Zion Retirement Community (UZRC): 2 residents, 3 staff, 1 resident death (updated 4/27)
CORRECTION: The statistic for Landis Homes originally was reported as 2 residents, without any deaths; that was incorrect. It has been corrected to read that 1 resident was infected and died.
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Lynn Rebuck is the editor and publisher of award-winning LititzDailyNews.com, the only independent digital news source in Lititz. Lynn is an award-winning photojournalist who was invited to the White House and has received top recognition from the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association, Pennsylvania Women’s Press Association, National Society of Newspaper Columnists, and has been profiled in Editor & Publisher magazine for her unparalleled dedication to publishing LititzDailyNews.com to benefit the community.