CHANDLER, Ariz. - On Tuesday, Pennington Gardens in Chandler confirmed 13 residents died from COVID-19 and there are 28 total cases.
Health officials say those at long-term care facilities are at the highest risk of dying or experiencing the most severe symptoms.
Residents and staff under one roof, people in constant close contact, means the virus can easily infect dozens of people.
“Once COVID-19 gets into a building, it’s just a wicked killing machine," says David Voepel with the Arizona Healthcare Association. “When it gets in the building it spreads like wildfire.”
The virus made it way into at least 75 long-term care facilities in Maricopa County.
Managers at Pennington Garden say in addition to more than a dozen deaths at their facility, they say five staff members recovered from the virus, and many residents are showing signs of recovery.
County-wide, more than 350 long-term care residents tested positive for the virus, nearly all of them hospitalized, and 47 residents have died. Maricopa County also reports 161 confirmed COVID-19 cases among staff members and one death.
Voepel says many assisted living centers don’t have the nurses, staff, nor the personal protective equipment to safeguard against the virus.
While skilled nursing facilities do, the residents there are being treated for underlying conditions that put them at the highest risk of dying.
“What we’ve seen with the Kirkland, Washington center, [we] saw death rates in the 30%-40%, even the [World Health Organization] reports a 21% death rate with those over 80 years old," Voepel explained.
As of Tuesday, the COVID-19 death rate at long-term facilities in Maricopa County is at 13%.
The death rate in the county overall is 3%.