Seven deaths, 66 confirmed Covid cases at Brandon Woods

Apr 28, 2020

Just days after five residents of nursing home Brandon Woods died from Covid-19, two more have since passed after contracting the illness, according to CEO of parent company Essex Group Management Frank Romano.

Romano said that there are now 66 confirmed coronavirus cases in a separate self-contained unit, half of which he said are asymptomatic. He did note that 14 residents have recovered from the virus and are now back in their own rooms.

“When the virus hits, it really has a negative impact on the residents,” Romano said. “It’s just devastating.”

He added that 16 employees also tested positive, with four coming back to work after testing negative and no longer showing any symptoms.

“It’s scary that a virus can affect people that way,” Romano said. “That’s why we need the [testing] machines.”

He added that any staff member who has tested positive would be paid during their time self-quarantining so they would not have to use any sick time, and nurses working in the Covid unit are paid time and a half.

Currently, the National Guard is conducting regular tests on residents in Brandon Woods along with help from the Broad Institute and MIT, who sent a mobile testing unit. But Romano said he is trying to secure a testing kit from Abbott Laboratories which can get Covid results in two hours.

“If we can test, we can beat this,” he said.

The mobile testing unit conducted tests on staff on April 24 after cancelling tests on April 21.

Romano attributed the delays to longer-than-expected wait times from tests on staff and residents at the New Bedford Brandon Woods facility.

“When you’re doing tests on residents who are older, you can’t conduct them in a hurry,” he said.

A nurse who works at the facility said anonymously that many staff members were also working without gowns or face shields until April 20, with just one N95 mask per staff member for the week.

“We have to wear the same one for a week, but that is protocol in most places now,” explained the nurse last week, before adding that the facility is “very chaotic.”

“Everyone is in fear, but we all have to do our best to not show it in front of the residents,” the nurse said.