Nearly a Third of Gracedale Residents Have Tested Positive for COVID-19

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Gracedale

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Gracedale in Upper Nazareth Township, Northampton County, is the largest nursing home under one roof in Pennsylvania.

Northampton County officials Monday released its latest statistics on the coronavirus outbreak at the county’s nursing home, Gracedale, and the numbers remained grim.

Officials reported that out of approximately 600 residents at the Upper Nazareth Township facility, to date 195 have tested positive for COVID-19. Only about half of the residents–a total of 325–have been tested for the virus, and 38 residents who previously tested positive have since tested negative for it, they said in a news release posted on the county Facebook page.

As of Monday, fifteen residents were hospitalized for COVID-19.

Gracedale is the largest nursing home under one roof in Pennsylvania, and it also has the highest number of deaths from the novel coronavirus of any facility in the Lehigh Valley.

The number of Gracedale residents who have died from the illness as of Monday was 46.

Additionally, forty-four of Gracedale’s 700 employees have tested positive for COVID-19.

At one point so many staff members were ill or absent from work that McClure summoned the National Guard to help staff Gracedale as part of an operation that has since ended.

“We are very proud of the work the staff at Gracedale is doing during this unprecedented pandemic,” said Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure in Monday’s news release. “Our county healthcare workers are heroes, doing the backbreaking work to protect some of our most vulnerable residents.”

Since individuals with weakened immune systems and/or underlying conditions are at high risk for developing complications or dying from COVID-19, the pandemic has proved particularly fatal for seniors in Northampton County and all around the world.

The average age of county residents who have died from it in the county is around 82, and approximately two-thirds of residents who have died from it lived in nursing homes, officials have said.

As of Friday, the county’s death toll from coronavirus was 187, according to the Northampton and Lehigh County coroners. The state’s reported death toll for Northampton County as of Friday was 196.

As of Monday, the state Department of Health was reporting that 128 of the deaths in Northampton County had occurred in nursing or personal care homes.

Symptoms of COVID-19 may include fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and a loss of taste and/or smell.

Northampton County has set up a drive-thru testing facility for anyone who is a county resident and experiencing symptoms that will remain open through Friday, May 22.

The testing site is located at the main parking lot at Easton Hospital, 250 S. 21st St., Easton, Pa., and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A prescription from a doctor is not required and the tests are free, but participants should bring their insurance card, if they have one, along with a photo ID, the county said.

Another testing site that is privately run is located at the Hellertown Rite Aid, 110 Main St., Hellertown. Tests via self-administered nasal swab are conducted at the store’s drive-thru window. Tests are free for those who qualify. Appointments must be scheduled in advance.

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