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NBC 10 I-Team: 42% of Rhode Island nursing homes have no COVID-19 cases

Forty-two percent of{ }Rhode Island nursing homes have no COVID-19 cases. (WJAR){p}{/p}
Forty-two percent of Rhode Island nursing homes have no COVID-19 cases. (WJAR)

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Here's a number that is often overlooked: 42% of Rhode Island nursing homes have no COVID-19 cases and many have fought hard to keep the virus out.

"I'm grateful. Surprised, I can't say that's the word I'd use. I mean there's many reasons for it," said Richard Desilets, executive director of Warren Center nursing home on Metacom Ave in Warren. The home has had zero cases and therefore no deaths.

"Brown University just did a study and released some data, which proves the two main ingredients for an outbreak is the size of the facility and the community in which the facility is located," said Desilets.

Warren Center is a smaller facility, with 38 current residents (63 available beds) and 50 staff members. The town of Warren only reports 44 cases of COVID-19.

For comparison, Providence on the other hand has 3,900 cases.

"This virus gets into homes regardless of ownership, regardless of size regardless of location and that's the insidiousness of it," said Scott Fraser, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Health Care Association, which represents 64 of the state's 81 nursing homes.

So, are those 34 local nursing homes that have no cases, just lucky?

"Right from the very beginning, we were screening residents, screening our visitors," said Desilets. The executive director can't say he's operated any differently than other nursing homes, but there are some measures he and his team have taken over the last 10 weeks. "Cleaning is a major priority and something we have done consistently since this outbreak, and I think that has really helped us."

Desilets and his staff are not about to rest on their laurels.

"To say we have it under control, I think that would be an overstatement. I try to drive home the point every day, that we're only as good as we were yesterday and today we have to be just as vigilant," he said.

Many in the nursing home industry say the number of residents who have recovered from the virus is also underreported. With 2,100 positive cases and 350 deaths in those facilities, that means 1,750 have beaten the disease.

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