Update: All 4 Miami County deaths were coronavirus cases, coroner says

UPDATE 3/27/20: Miami County Coroner William Ginn said on Friday that all four of the Miami County nursing home residents who have died in the county's cluster outbreak of coronavirus tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Two cases had already been confirmed and results are now in for the other two, Koester Pavilion residents Earl Bolinger, 93, who died March 19, and Glenn Witters, 83, who died March 20.

Original story 3/25/20

Another nursing home resident in Miami County has died in the county’s coronavirus outbreak, Miami County Public Health announced on Wednesday.

Hazel Begovich, 88, a resident of SpringMeade Health Center in Tipp City had tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus sweeping the globe, Miami County Coroner William Ginn said. She died Wednesday.

It is the first COVID-19 death at SpringMeade and the fourth at Miami County nursing homes since last week, when the coronavirus outbreak at Koester Pavilion in Troy began and then spread to SpringMeade. The three others who died lived at Koester. Two of the four who died tested positive for COVID-19 and results are pending on two others.

“Our deepest condolences go out to the family and our thoughts and prayers are with them,” the news release about the latest death says.

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No new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Miami County, the local health district said.

The county is grappling with a cluster outbreak of COVID-19, occurring at the two nursing homes. Six people remain hospitalized. More than 31 other residents, staff and visitors are being monitored for symptoms, although a full number was not available from public health.

Officials are searching for everyone who had contact with those who died and others infected at Koester and SpringMeade, and no transfers in or out of the facilities are permitted to try to halt the spread of COVID-19.

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A sick staff member at SpringMeade also worked at Koester but “did not work at Koester and SpringMeade after becoming sick with symptoms consistent with COVID-19,” said Ben Sutherly, Premier Health system director of communications.

Premier owns both facilities, which provide skilled nursing care and short-term rehabilitation. They are the health system’s only nursing homes.

Sutherly said it is a very common practice for nursing homes to share specialists.

“It is hard for one skilled nursing facility to justify having certain health care specialists exclusively on its staff. If skilled nursing facilities did not share certain services, they could not afford to offer them at all,” Sutherly said.

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In the wake of the outbreak, Koester and SpringMeade will no longer share primary caregivers, but will continue to share staff like recruiters who are not involved directly in caregiving, Sutherly said.

Twenty-two positive cases of the disease are associated with Koester and SpringMeade.

A 56-year-old Miami County man who had traveled overseas and has no connection with the nursing homes also has tested positive and is quarantined at home.

RELATED: Coronavirus: Third person dies at local nursing home

The Koester residents who have died include Alan Shump, 88, of Troy, who tested positive for COVID-19 and died Sunday; Earl Bolinger, 93, who died Thursday; and Glenn Witters, 83, who died on Friday, said Ginn. Tests remain pending for Bolinger and Witters.

The Ohio Department of Health on Wednesday reported 704 COVID-19 cases and 10 deaths statewide, a figure that appears to not include the latest death in Miami County.

Public health continues to field questions about the state’s stay-at-home order that took effect in Ohio on Monday night and is working to give guidance to companies on how to determine if they meet the order’s requirement for an essential business classification.

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The news release said the office “was also notified that Miami County Sheriff’s Department has received calls from employees of various companies, regarding employers not following social distancing guidelines or essential status.”

It said concerns should be addressed with the employer and the employer’s human resources office but if “concerns continue, then employees should contact Miami County Public Health.”

The full order and frequently asked questions can be read at the state's coronavirus portal.

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