The first positive nursing home test took place on March 18, said Dr. Wright, and within days, the number of symptomatic patients increased rapidly. A resident who had been sent to hospital for a bladder infection was subsequently tested positive for the virus. Around the same time, another resident developed a high fever and respiratory symptoms.
However, it took precious time for those responsible to act.
Canterbury asked for help from the Henrico County Health Department to test all residents and employees on March 26. Around this time, a laboratory in Richmond was able to start testing, and on March 30 everyone at the facility was finally tested.
The results were frightening.
Over 60 of the 160 residents tested positive. About 50 of them showed no symptoms, although some developed symptoms later.
“We were shocked,” said Dr. Wright. “We thought we had relatively contained it until the results started coming. And it told us how late we were. “
The number of calls to the county fire department regarding problems in Canterbury has also started to increase. Dispatchers asked facility staff to bring patients to the lobby, where an ambulance attendant in protective gear could assess the situation. Some residents were taken to nearby hospitals, who were themselves stressed.
Canterbury acknowledged that it was understaffed as the crisis deepened. Jeremiah Davis, the facility administrator, said in a statement that Canterbury had temporarily doubled the salaries of nurses and attempted to hire staff through third-party recruiting agencies.
“In particular, close to a dozen Canterbury workers recovered from Covid-19 have returned to work and deal exclusively with positive residents of Covid-19,” said Mr. Davis.