AKRON, Ohio — Seven residents at a retirement community near Akron's Highland Square have died from the coronavirus, officials confirmed to 3News Wednesday.
A spokeswoman for Ohio Living Rockynol on West Market Street says the deaths all occurred over the last three and a half weeks. The facility's first positive test was reported back on March 21, and the organization says that patient immediately went to the hospital and that all CDC guidelines were subsequently followed.
"During a conference call on March 22, the Ohio Department of Health assured us that we have done, and are doing, everything possible," Ohio Living said in a statement. "Those assurances, however, do little to ease our heartbreak over the seven residents we have lost."
Although it is unknown at this time just how many residents have contracted the virus or how the cluster began, officials seemed to point the finger at a lack of thinks like medical masks, saying, "In the beginning of this crisis organizations like ours were at the bottom of the prioritization list for obtaining personal protective equipment (PPE)." According to a written statement provided to members of the media, Ohio Living says it has since increased its PPE stock, confined residents more to their rooms, cleaned its health center, and even reached an agreement with Columbus-based Battelle to sterilize N95 masks.
Northeast Ohio has seen multiple clusters of COVID-19 cases at similar communities, including five deaths at the Glendora Health Care Center in Wooster. Just this week, Gov. Mike DeWine ordered all of the state's nursing homes to notify residents and families of positive test results.
Ohio Living, a faith-based charity, says it will continue to admit patients with coronavirus for post-hospital care. Those instances are decided "on a case-by-case basis."