8 dead at Autumn Hill: Health department confirms COVID-19 deaths

Thursday, October 29, 2020

By Scott Loftis


Eight residents of a local nursing home have died from COVID-19, the Arkansas Department of Health confirmed Monday afternoon.

Danyelle McNeill, public information officer for the ADH’s Office of Health Communications, said eight residents at Autumn Hill Therapy and Living Center in Berryville have died from the virus. McNeill said a total of 46 residents at Autumn Hill have tested positive for COVID-19, with 15 active cases, 23 cases designated as recovered and the eight deaths. There have been 36 cases among staff at Autumn Hill, McNeill said, with one active case and 35 recovered.

A cluster of cases at Autumn Hill was first reported in early October, with Autumn Hill administrator John Higgs saying by email then that the facility first received word of a “presumptive positive case” during routine weekly testing on Monday, Sept. 28.

“Our residents are currently in isolation at the facility following guidance from the CDC to reduce the risk of exposure to others,” Higgs said in an emailed statement on Oct. 5. “We are taking several additional steps to prevent the spread of the virus in our community including monitoring all residents and staff for fever and respiratory symptoms. Autumn Hill continues to work with Arkansas Department of Health and CDC to identify and contact residents and staff who may have come into contact with the individual while they were infectious.”

On Monday, Higgs again issued a statement via email.

“We have lost several residents but have had many recover,” the statement said. “No other information will be provided about the residents. We are strictly adhering to CDC guidelines and taking the necessary steps to ensure we are doing all we can to protect the health of our residents and employees.”

As of Monday afternoon, the ADH reported a cumulative total of 992 cases in Carroll County, with 954 of those cases confirmed through polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing. Thirty-eight “probable cases” were based on less sensitive antigen testing. There have been 64 new confirmed cases and nine probable cases have been added since Sunday, Oct. 18.

The ADH says 15 people have died from the virus in Carroll County, although it’s not clear if that number includes all eight deaths among Autumn Hill residents.

Statewide, a total of 106,727 Arkansas residents have tested positive for the virus — 99,410 through PCR testing and 7,317 through antigen testing. A total of 1,833 Arkansans have died from COVID-19, including 129 announced in an eight-day span since Oct. 19.

The ADH said 649 Arkansans were hospitalized because of the virus on Monday — the most since the pandemic began in mid-March — with 102 on ventilators.

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