A Chelsea-based nursing home group says 11 of its residents have died after testing positive for the coronavirus.
Chelsea Jewish Lifecare says 117 residents have tested positive so far at its locations in Chelsea, Peabody and Winthrop. An additional 40 employees have tested positive.
"Never in the 100-year history of Chelsea Jewish Lifecare have we faced a situation like this one," the nursing home said in a statement. "Despite all our best efforts and preparation, the COVID-19 pandemic facing the world has found its way within the walls of some of our facilities. Even more troubling, we now understand how pervasive the virus in our surrounding communities has become due to how swift and silent its spread has been."
The facility says it followed guidance from the state Department of Public Health and other local officials "to take aggressive steps to prevent the spread of the virus," including creating an isolation unit for residents who test positive and assigning a separate team to care for those residents. It also says it implemented a universal mask policy, increased monitoring and asked staff with symptoms to self-quarantine.
Despite those steps, the nursing home says "limited access to testing and overly restrictive criteria to test" hampered its efforts to slow the spread of the virus.
"Instead of waiting for testing to become available through channels ordinarily available to nursing facility providers, we proactively contracted with a private lab to begin the process of wide-scale testing of our residents in our nursing homes," the statement says. "We understood that testing more broadly would mean that we would discover more positive cases, as we know from the CDC that most of the people with the virus experience little or no symptoms. Despite this fact, we felt this was the right course of action to understand the true impact of the virus in our facilities."
As of the statement on Saturday, 251 residents and 103 employees were tested.
State health officials say there are now more than 3,000 people with confirmed coronavirus cases at long-term care facilities.