The death toll from COVID-19 is up to seven in Carroll County with the addition of three more nursing home residents.

The three were included in updates over the weekend by the Mississippi State Department of Health.

Carroll County has experienced six deaths of nursing home residents since the beginning of May. All six had been living at Vaiden Community Living Center, which has been the site of a major outbreak of COVID-19 among residents and staff.

Three of the residents, including one who was on hospice, died at the nursing home, according to Rachel Ethridge, a spokeswoman for Community Eldercare Services, the management company for the Vaiden facility. Two had been discharged to the hospital, where they died. The other, she said, was a former resident who had been discharged to another location prior to the person’s death.

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For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are particularly vulnerable.

All three of the latest victims were white, breaking a racial pattern of deaths that had existed since the outbreak in March.

The 26 previous deaths in the two-county area that includes Leflore were African American.

Long-term care facilities have become a major point of emphasis in Mississippi’s effort to curtail the spread of the highly contagious virus. Adopting a recommendation from White House health officials, Gov. Tate Reeves has called for testing all residents and staff at long-term care facilities for COVID-19 by the end of this month. The testing is to be handled free of charge by the Department of Health, with assistance from the Mississippi National Guard.

Currently, 98 long-term care facilities in the state have at least one active case of COVID-19.

In Leflore County, long-term care facilities have accounted for 50% of its 22 COVID-19 deaths. Statewide, the breakdown is only slightly less — 254 out of 528 deaths, or 48 percent.

Ethridge said that one resident at Vaiden Community Living Center who had been infected with COVID-19 has recovered and returned from the hospital. In addition, 20 employees who had previously tested positive for the virus have recovered and returned to work.

The 60-bed nursing home also began last week retesting residents who had previously tested positive. Ethridge said the nursing home expects the majority, if not all, to test negative.

“Since the beginning of this pandemic, Vaiden CLC has been working with all of our public safety partners and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), MSDH to ensure the safety and security of both our protected persons and our employees,” Ethridge said in an email Monday. “We continue to follow the guidance issued by the CDC to ensure the health and welfare of our employees and those they come in contact with.”

Meanwhile, a Greenwood nursing home has reported that a second employee has tested positive for the virus.

The employee at Golden Age “sensed that there might be an issue and went for testing, and the testing was confirmed,” said Allan Hammons, a spokesman for the nursing home. The employee is quarantining at home for the next two weeks.

Last week, Golden Age announced that a part-time employee, who had not worked at the nursing home since May 6, had tested positive for the virus.

On Monday, the Health Department reported 136 new cases and seven new deaths, although two of these had occurred on May 5 and were just identified through death certificates as being caused by the virus.  More than 11,400 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in a state of about 3 million people.

As of Monday morning, Greenwood Leflore Hospital was treating nine patients with the disease in its 16-bed COVID-19 unit, according to Christine Hemphill, a hospital spokeswoman. One of the patients was on a ventilator to help the patient breathe.

•Contact Tim Kalich at 581-7243 or

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