Health officials target nursing homes to contain COVID-19 spread


VIRGINIA (WAVY) — The Virginia Department of Health is focusing on long-term care facilities because that’s where more than half of the COVID-19 deaths in Virginia have occurred in the state.

As of Wednesday morning, Virginia had 1,478 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 and 905 of those, or more than 60 percent, happened at long-term care facilities.

“It’s just hit this population really hard. these are vulnerable residents who are just going to have a hard time fighting this virus,” said Sarah Lineberger, VDH Healthcare’s associate infections program manager.

VDH is putting a special emphasis on nursing homes to ensure they have enough personal protective equipment and enough money to wage the war against the deadly disease.

“VDH under the governor’s direction set up a long-term care task force to try and make sure we’re funneling resources effectively to nursing homes during this pandemic,” Lineberger said.

VDH is partnering with the Virginia National Guard. We’ve seen them on-site at outdoor testing clinics, especially in Accomack County last month. They’ll assist in the testing blitz that will target at least one hundred nursing homes in the commonwealth.

“(The Virginia National Guard) is going into nursing homes and taking all the testing supplies with them, and swabbing the staff and residents,” Lineberger said.

For the first time, nursing homes are reporting their case numbers to the National Healthcare Safety Network. VDH says, so far, the reporting process has been inconsistent, so for now the agency is sharing info on specific locations only with the facilities.

10 On Your Side is working on an in-depth look at nursing homes during the pandemic. We’d like to hear about the experience you and your loved ones have had.

Contact us at or directly to our investigative producer at

You can also look up a particular long term facility on the Medicare web site.

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