Atlantic County today reported a total of 1,494 corona virus cases and 72 deaths. This is an increase of 71 cases and 4 death since yesterday. That number is not good and indicates a doubling in less than two weeks. Should we be alarmed? Should the lockdown continue?
We don’t know because the government and the media refuse to report important information we need to know. Who is infected? Where, when, and how did they get infected?
We do have some clues. The NJ Department of Health did report last Friday that 549 patients in Atlantic County nursing homes tested positive and that 68 died. That comes to 37% of the cases, and 78% of the deaths. Roughly half of those cases and 37% of the deaths came from just two nursing homes, Hammonton Center and Preferred Care (Absecon Manor).
Who else in Atlantic County is infected and how and where did they get sick? Ancora State Psychiatric is not in Atlantic County but it offers some clues. Ancora has 393 patients, and 68 tested positive. Three of them died. However, 82 employees at Ancora also tested positive. Many of these employees live in Atlantic County.
One of our members recently informed us that in nearby Cape May County, many family members of nursing home employees are infected.
Without getting the actual facts, we can only guess. However, is it possible that many of Atlantic County’s remaining corona virus cases are nursing home employees? Is it possible that many more cases are family members or people who share housing with nursing home employees?
If so, can we control most of the disease by just testing nursing home employees and their contacts, and by quarantining those who test positive? Can we control more by testing homeless and others who ignored the lockdown, quarantining those who test positive? If we do that, would it be safe to let the rest of us go to work and have normal lives? — Assuming we continue to avoid going out when we are sick, wash hands often and avoid touching our faces? And also assuming that many of us will even keep wearing masks for a while longer?
Seth Grossman, Executive Director