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Kentucky task force working to protect residents in long-term care facilities during coronavirus pandemic

Nursing homes have been hard hit by the coronavirus.

KENTUCKY--More than a quarter of the people in Kentucky’s who have died from the coronavirus were in nursing homes.

Many people expressed concern for their loved ones in long term care facilities during Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s Facebook live Friday morning.

The mayor and health officials explained what they are doing to try to keep everyone in those facilities safe.

“Our seniors they have given their blood and sweat to our nation, they are the heart and soul of our nation,” geriatric specialist Dr. Muhammad Babar said.

Dr. Babar says we need to take care of our elderly. Right now, skilled-nursing facilities are doing what they can to do that.

But it’s a challenge.

“Living in a skilled facility and a long-term care facility, it’s a closed community, it’s a closed environment,” Dr. Babar said. “So the risk of spreading this virus to the residents and the staff there is much higher.”

Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services Inspector General Adam Mather says the state has a task force dedicated to providing guidelines and stopping the spread of coronavirus at long term care facilities.

RELATED: Nursing home deaths soar amid COVID-19 pandemic

That incudes addressing the national shortage of testing kits and PPE.

“I am frustrated that we haven’t been able to test everyone yet and that’s simply due to the last of kits, the lack of availability,” CHFS Acting Secretary Eric Friedlander said. “And that’s not something that’s limited to the state of Kentucky.”

Testing can happen right in these long-term care facilities, instead of taking residents to the hospital which could expose them to more germs.

These facilities are also doing what is known as cohorting, or separating people who have tested positive from everyone else.

RELATED: Federal health officials under pressure to publicly track nursing home outbreaks

“There’s a separate air system in this unit which we have opened, and the staff is dedicated to this unit,” Dr. Babar said.

Some long-term care facilities are being turned into treatment facilities for COVID patients, like Hillcreek Rehabilitation and Care in Louisville. The officials want to assure people this does not pose a risk to other residents because they are separated.

They also say if you are worried about a loved one, call and check in or visit through the window.

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