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What Arizona's Long Term Care Facilities Are Doing To Keep Residents Safe From Coronavirus

Washington state has reported nine coronavirus-related deaths. Most were residents of a long term care facility.

What precautions are being taken here to protect older Arizonans who live in communal settings?

Cheryl Knupp is the senior vice president of health services at Beatitudes Campus, a retirement community in central Phoenix. She says in light of the rising number of cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, they’re preparing for the possible spread in the state.

"We are working hand in hand with our local and state government agencies; we’re getting notified by the CDC, Centers for Disease Control, we’re checking the World Health Organization website and Leading Age, our professional organization is constantly putting out information as well," she said.

David Voepel is the CEO for the Arizona Health Care Association. His group also represents long term care and skilled nursing communities. 

"And for most skilled nursing facilities folks going to the hospital then coming back to the facility is a big problem," he said.

Another challenge he said, "this COVID-19 doesn’t present, you might not present any symptoms but you could be a carrier."

Brookdale is a national chain of long term care communities. In a statement, it said their main focus is prevention, as well as reinforcing policies and procedures for contagious illnesses with staff. 

KJZZ senior field correspondent Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.