As results from the state-mandated testing of all nursing home residents and employees continue to trickle in, newly released data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services show a handful of positive cases of COVID-19 in Hidalgo County.
Four confirmed and 18 suspected cases of COVID-19 were reported by nursing homes in Hidalgo County to CMS as of May 31. Additionally, one suspected case of the disease was reported by a nursing home in Rio Grande City.
Three out of the four confirmed cases of the disease were among the staff of Alamo Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, which also reported nine suspected cases among their residents.
Alamo Nursing and Rehab also reported four total resident deaths to CMS, which were not reported as COVID-19 related.
The fourth COVID-19 case in Hidalgo County was reported in Mercedes at Mid Valley Nursing & Rehabilitation. The case was also among the nursing home staff.
The data was released by CMS on Thursday and includes COVID-19 data reported for nursing homes from across the country.
The nursing home facilities had the option to report their cumulative data that goes back to Jan. 1.
“Some facilities are reporting retrospective data because they have the option to, some are not, so you will see some facilities that have higher number of cases or deaths compared to others,” a CMS official said during a conference call with media on June 4. “That may be due just to the fact that they are reporting retrospective data.”
Another limitation of the data, according to CMS Administrator Seema Verma, is that facilities may be struggling to enter data accurately given that it is a brand new program.
“We should expect to see some fluctuations in the data,” Verma said.
Nationwide, there have been 95,515 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and nearly 32,000 deaths at nursing homes, according to the data CMS has collected so far.
In McAllen, none of the seven nursing homes there reported any cases of COVID-19 as of May 31.
However, Las Palmas Healthcare Center reported three total resident deaths and Village Healthcare and Rehabilitation reported two resident deaths, though those were not logged as COVID-19 related.
Retama Manor Nursing Center in McAllen reported a total of six resident deaths and Briarcliff Nursing and Rehabilitation Center reported five deaths — also not reported as COVID-19 related.
In Edinburg, there were at least six suspected cases of COVID-19 in nursing homes.
Senior Care of Edinburg reported three suspected COVID-19 cases among residents and two suspected cases among staff.
They also reported a total of 10 deaths not considered COVID-19 related.
Edinburg Nursing and Rehabilitation Center reported one COVID-19 admission into its facility and one suspected case among the staff.
They reported two total resident deaths while Retama Manor Nursing Center in Edinburg reported five total resident deaths, also not related to the disease.
Among the four nursing homes in Edinburg, only Windsor Arbor View did not submit data to CMS as of May 31.
Of the two nursing homes in Mission — Mission Nursing & Rehabilitation Center and Mission Valley Nursing and Transitional Care — neither reported any confirmed cases of COVID-19. But they did report non-COVID-19 deaths.
Mission Nursing reported 13 total resident deaths while Mission Valley reported one.
There were three suspected cases reported in Pharr as of May 31 from Colonial Manor Advanced Rehab & Healthcare, the lone nursing home there overseen by CMS.
In San Juan, there were two non-COVID deaths reported by San Juan Nursing Home Inc. though no confirmed cases were reported there.
The Heights of Alamo did not report any cases as of May 31. However, The Monitor reported on June 5 that five people — four residents and one employee — tested positive for COVID-19 there.
Of the three nursing homes in Weslaco — Valley Grande Manor, Orchard Park Post Acute Nursing and Rehabilitation, and Weslaco Nursing and Rehabilitation Center — only Valley Grande submitted data to CMS as of May 31, and they reported no cases or deaths.
In Rio Grande City, Rio Grande City Nursing and Rehabilitation Center reported one suspected case of COVID-19 among staff while Retama Manor Health and Rehabilitation Center reported a total of nine resident deaths that were not COVID-19 related.
In Willacy County, Retama Manor Nursing Center in Raymondville reported four resident deaths, but those were also not COVID-19 related.
Cameron County health officials have consistently reported data from their nursing home facilities, which experienced outbreaks early on during the pandemic.
On Saturday, the county reported there were 34 employees and 63 residents who tested positive at the Veranda Nursing Home in Harlingen, including 11 who died.
At the Windsor Atrium, also in Harlingen, 39 employees and 61 residents tested positive, including 16 who died.
At Spanish Meadows in Brownsville, six employees and 11 residents tested positive.
The nursing homes are expected to report their data every Sunday to CMS. Following a grace period, facilities that do not report data will be fined $1,000 the first time and $1,500 the following week. The fine will continue to increase from there until they start reporting, according to Verma.
The data will likely inform many of the decisions and actions taken by CMS.
“It’s a national surveillance system so it can help inform state health departments of actions to take — some of our survey actions that we released on Monday — and some quality improvement actions that can be done through the use of CMS’s quality improvement organizations,” said a CMS official.
“(It) can help us as we look towards the fall, it can serve as an early warning system to prevent the second wave or resurgence of COVID-19, so we’re really excited to be able to leverage the system in that way.”