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COVID outbreaks take over Pike County long-term care facilities

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PITTSFIELD, Ill. (WGEM) -- Officials in Pike County, Illinois said their concern goes beyond hospital beds and need for PPE.

They said it's about residents in long-term care facilities, as nearly all residents are stuck in there with COVID-19.

"All of our long-term care facilities are dealing with it pretty heavily," Pike County Emergency Management Director Josh Martin said.

"They are just overwhelmed with COVID patients," Pike County EMT Brady Milnes said.

Through the windows of nursing homes in Pike County, officials said they see more residents than ever with COVID-19.

Martin said many of the facilities have implemented rapid testing, but that's not going to stop the spread over night.

"I know a lot of them are doing some isolation things," Martin said. "Obviously whenever a large population starts getting involved, the the isolation becomes more like the whole home."

Milnes witnesses the overload of COVID-19 cases every time he responds to a 911 call at the nursing homes.

"They used to have 10 to 12 rooms with their barrier up, now they move their barriers back, now some have completely taken the barriers down and have three to four patient rooms that are non-COVID rooms, where everyone else in the building is infected," Milnes said.

Officials urge people to mask up and social distance as community transmission affects nursing home staff.

"Not only are the residents getting it, but the staffs getting it as well, now they have less staff taking care of their residents," Martin said.

Beyond the staff, Martin said they only have enough PPE to get by for so long.

"We've done the best we can on what we can get for them, but obviously the longer this goes on, the more difficult it is to continue that," Martin said.

It's a warning for people to follow the guidelines this holiday season so their elderly loved ones can too.

"We're still just keeping our head down and working with them, but long-term care has definitely taken a big hit in our county," Martin said.

Martin said the ambulance service is doing everything it can to avoid taking residents to the hospital, unless it's absolutely necessary.

He said this is to keep the outbreaks isolated from the community and hospital.

TAG: "Martin says as of right now, the hospitals do have capacity, but you may experience a wait in the emergency room. Reporting in Pike County, Illinois, Kara Biernat, WGEM News."

Kara Biernat

Kara Biernat is a MultiMedia Journalist for WGEM News.

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