Death toll at veterans home rises to 13 as Utah care facilities join upward coronavirus trend

(Rick Egan | Tribune file photo) William E. Christoffersen Veterans Home in Salt Lake City in May 2020.

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COVID-19 has killed a 13th resident of a state-run home for veterans, and the number of nursing and care facilities in Utah with coronavirus cases continued to climb Thursday.

When the Utah Department of Health provided its first list of long-term care facilities with two or more active coronavirus cases May 14, nine such homes were on the roster.

On Thursday, 17 facilities have active outbreaks, according to the health department. Nine of those centers have five or more cases.

The geography of the current tally looks much like the state’s coronavirus spread as a whole. Eight of the facilities are in Salt Lake County, four are in Utah County, and three are in Washington County. The two others are in Davis and Weber counties.

The list does not yet include Sunrise at Holladay, a senior living center in an east Salt Lake County suburb.

Carla Sanchez, regional vice president of operations for the facility’s owner, Sunrise Senior Living, confirmed in a news release that the center “has been impacted by COVID-19.” Sanchez did not provide any details but said staffers are working with the health department to control infections.

Nursing homes and other types of care centers have been perilous spots during the pandemic. The coronavirus is most serious for older people and those with underlying health conditions.

In Utah, care facilities have accounted for 70 of the 164 deaths, according to the state health department. At the 81-bed William E. Christofferson Salt Lake Veterans Home, 13 residents have died, according to the latest numbers from the Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs.

Fifty-one residents have tested positive for the virus since May 18.

The home received some good news this week.

Jeff Hanson, deputy director at the state’s Department of Veterans and Military Affairs, said two of those residents have now been listed as recovered. Another 22 patients have tested negative once; the results of their second tests are pending.

“We continue to do a lot of testing,” Hanson said, “and try to sort it out, but things are definitely heading in a very positive direction.”