Death toll from COVID-19 in Ohio nursing homes reaches more than 1,200

Death toll from COVID-19 in Ohio nursing homes reaches more than 1,200

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - New numbers show the death toll from COVID-19 in Ohio nursing homes is even worse than initially reported.

The Ohio Department of Health has been releasing the number of deaths online since April 15, but now we know how many patients died before that date.

In total, 1,247 nursing home residents have died from the disease since the beginning of the pandemic.

The latest numbers from the Ohio Department of Health show 878 nursing home residents died from COVID-19 since April 15.

But newly-released numbers now reveal 369 residents died before that date, bringing the total number of nursing home deaths much higher.

These latest numbers show about 70% of coronavirus-related deaths in Ohio were in nursing homes.

Now, Gov. Mike DeWine is calling in the Ohio National Guard to help with testing.

Families we spoke to say help can't come soon enough.

“I don’t understand why we’re not protecting the elderly. I mean when this first came out, everyone said nursing homes are the hot spots,” said Mary Ann Ellis.

Her mother Marian, 83 years old, is in an Avon Lake nursing home.

“This is a pandemic. Why aren’t we pouring in our resources to help these facilities?,” she asked.

Marian can't walk and is legally blind.

Her daughter said she has not been tested for COVID-19.

“If we test everyone, then we know where we stand, Everyone can feel a little more comfortable, a little more relaxed. So, that’s what’s frustrating to me. Why are we not testing?,” Ellis said.

19 Investigates reached out to the Ohio National Guard.

They said teams are being assembled right now, but they're not in mission yet.

They're still waiting for a schedule and locations.

Ellis hasn’t been able to visit her mother in months since no visitors are allowed in nursing homes.

She worries about her mother's health and safety as deaths in nursing homes continue to climb.

“You’re thinking, ‘Why aren’t they getting more help?’ You’d think you would have all hands on deck. You’d be flooding these places with extra help. The equipment they need to stay safe, the mask and gown and gloves,” Ellis said.

“I just don’t understand. I really am speechless on the lack of empathy toward everything,” she said.

We'll check in with the Ohio National Guard next week to see if they're out in nursing homes testing, and where they are testing.

Nationwide, outbreaks of COVID-19 in nursing homes have killed more than 32,000 people.

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