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A staff member blocks the view as a person is taken by a stretcher to a waiting ambulance from a Washington State nursing facility where more than 50 people are sick and being tested for the COVID-19 virus on February 29, 2020.

Elaine Thompson/AP

At least 7,000 people have died from COVID-19 in nursing homes, The New York Times reported. 

More than 4,100 care center facilities may be dealing with coronavirus across the country. 

Deaths in care centers account for almost 20% of the US entire coronavirus deaths. 

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At least 7,000 people have died of the coronavirus either in or associated with nursing homes in the United States, The New York Times reported. 

Nursing homes in the US have been significantly impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. More than 36,500 people have died from COVID-19 as of April 17, which means almost one in every five deaths have been associated with nursing homes. 

The first coronavirus deaths at a nursing home were in suburban Seattle. By the end of March, at least 43 deaths have been linked to the Life of Care Center in Kirkland, Washington, Business Insider previously reported. 

In the past six weeks, the death rate from nursing homes has skyrocketed. Last week the number of deaths stood at around 3,600 based on tallies from the Associated Press, Business Insider also reported. 

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However, experts have said that the numbers are just “the tip of the iceberg” and the likely total is much higher. The federal government, however, does not specifically track coronavirus deaths in nursing homes, according to the Center for Disease Control. 

Business Insider reported that the federal government did begin looking at the impact of the virus in long-term care facilities, after pressure from Democratic senators. 

While the CDC reported that at least 400 facilities across the US had coronavirus infections, reports from NBC estimate almost 2,500 long-term care facilities having residents infected by the coronavirus in 36 states. According to The Times, at least 4,100 nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have been impacted.

According to The Times, across the country, more than 36,500 residents and employees in nursing homes have contracted the virus. The US has over 700,000 cases of coronavirus infections. 

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“They’re death pits,” Betsy McCaughey, a former lieutenant governor of New York who founded the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths told The Times. “These nursing homes are already overwhelmed. They’re crowded and they’re understaffed. One COVID-positive patient in a nursing home produces carnage.”

The virus, which has been known to be more lethal in older populations, especially those with underlying health conditions, is able to spread quickly in spaces like nursing homes because staff tends to go from room to room to help residents and are able to pass the virus from person to person, according to The Times.

At least 94 residents and staff at the Long Island State Veterans Home at Stony Brook University contracted the virus, of which 32 residents died. 

Judith Regan, an editor and publishing executive whose 91-year-old father lives in the home told The Times: “The residents and staff are being led to slaughter. He is on the Titanic, but there are no lifeboats.”

Police in New Jersey found 17 bodies in a small morgue in a nursing home, Business Insider previously reported. Those bodies 17 were among 68 recent deaths at Andover Subacute Rehab I and II. It’s not entirely clear if all the deaths were coronavirus related, however, 26 of the deaths, including two nurses, were confirmed cases of COVID-19. 

Another issue that has helped the virus to spread in these facilities is low staffing and lack of personal protective equipment, according to The Times. 

Days after 16 employees and dozens of patients tested positive for the coronavirus, only one of the 13 staff members at a Riverside County, California, nursing home showed up for work. More than 80 coronavirus patients in the facility had to be evacuated.

Staff members reported having trouble accessing tests and reusing N95 masks sometimes for weeks, according to The Times. 

“We don’t have what we need to stop this,” Mark Parkinson, the president and chief executive of the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living told The Times. “We have got to have masks, and we don’t have masks.”

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