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Nursing Homes Must Be Focus

Of the 39 COVID-19 cases identified in West Virginia by this morning, 16 were in Monongalia County. At least seven were at a nursing home there. That raises a terrifying prospect for anyone who has been paying attention to the outbreak.

Four residents and three staff members at the Sundale Nursing Home in Morgantown tested positive for COVID-19, state officials said Tuesday. Beyond any reasonable doubt, that means others at the facility — and quite likely, people who have come in contact with them — have contracted the virus, too.

Concern about COVID-19 spiked in this country as a result of an outbreak at the Life Care Center nursing home in Kirkland, Washington. At least 35 residents and staff members there had succumbed to the disease by Tuesday.

Surrounding King County had recorded 87 coronavirus cases by Tuesday.

We know those most at risk from COVID-19 are older people with underlying medical conditions — precisely the type of men and women most likely to be in nursing homes. That makes walling them off from contagion imperative, solely for the sake of those who live there. The potential for the virus to spread out of nursing homes and into their communities also is very real.

We assume state public health officials already have a plan to establish a barrier around our nursing homes. Experiences in other states may provide a template.

That plan needs to be put into effect immediately, if such action has not been taken already. We must stave off a tragedy like that in Washington.

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