MEDFORD, MA — There have been 19 coronavirus-related deaths at Medford's long-term care facilities in the last two weeks alone, the mayor's office said Tuesday. Mayor Breanna Lungo-Koehn said that number "can and likely will continue to rise" as Massachusetts prepares for an expected surge in cases in the next week.
In a statement Tuesday, Lungo-Koehn highlighted the nurses, staff, directors and volunteers at local nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
"I am so proud of and thankful to the health care professionals and first responders who continue to put their lives and well-being on the line to do whatever they can to help those battling COVID-19," Lungo-Koehn said. "Today, though, I want to highlight and thank the nurses, staff, directors, and volunteers in our nursing homes and long-term care facilities. I especially want to recognize the unsung heroes of nursing home ancillary staff like the housekeeping staff, food service workers, and laundry employees who haven’t been thanked enough for what they do."
The mayor said the National Guard has been helping at some of these facilities, providing personal protective equipment and testing, and is working to secure additional staffing and infection control resources.
"Doctors, nurses, and health care providers in hospitals all across the country are faced with these issues and these decisions every day for critically ill patients in their COVID-19 units. But there's the difference: there are entire units in hospitals currently dedicated to combatting COVID-19," Lungo-Koehn said. "In long-term care facilities that are already typically understaffed, the disease is spreading so quickly among our most vulnerable that caregivers are working even harder to prevent infection and treat their patients, whether they're dealing with COVID-19 or otherwise."
The mayor urged residents to continue to socially distance in order to protect Medford's most vulnerable populations. She said Massachusetts has made "incredible" progress in flattening the curve, but efforts must continue. This includes staying at home as much as possible and wearing masks when shopping for essentials, according to Lungo-Koehn.
"We're not giving up," she said. "But we need to step up for our most vulnerable."