By Mitch Borden
Over the last month, a Midland nursing home has transformed into a coronavirus hot spot, resulting in dozens of infections and leading to the death of almost 20 people.
The outbreak at Ashton Medical Lodge is reminiscent of the city’s first major coronavirus outbreak in April at Midland Medical Lodge, another longterm care facility operated by the same company that owns Ashton Medical Lodge.
Below is an abridged transcript of an interview between Marfa Public Radio’s Morning Edition Host Ari Snider and Permian Basin Reporter Mitch Borden.
To listen to the full interview click on the audio player above.
AS: Mitch, tell us about this recent outbreak in Midland.
MB:.So, the outbreak we’re mainly talking about today started at Ashton Medical Lodge, which is based in Midland, and it started at the beginning of August. Now over 100 Coronavirus cases can be traced back to the nursing home and the breakdown is about 30 staff members have tested positive and at least 75 residents have been diagnosed [with COVID-19].
Those numbers were given to us by a spokesperson of the nursing home late last week.
AS: That’s a lot of people.
MB: Yeah, just to put it into perspective, that’s 60% of the residents that were staying at the lodge when the outbreak began a little over a month ago. And sadly, at least 17 people have died due to complications with COVID-19 because of this outbreak.
Before we go any further, I just want to clarify one thing for our listeners.
AS: Alright, what should we know?
MB: Like the rest of the country, the Permian Basin has seen multiple nursing homes become hotbeds for the coronavirus. We’ve not only seen this in Midland, but nursing homes in Odessa and Crane have also seen large segments of their residents come down with COVID and [some residents have] die because of it.
But, Ashton Medical Lodge’s sister facility, Midland Medical Lodge, was the site of the city’s first major outbreak of the virus, and it’s notable that the two facilities are owned by the same company and have become sites of some of Midland’s largest coronavirus clusters.
AS: Are these situations similar? Are they different? I mean, patients at Midland Medical Lodge were testing positive back in April. Has anything changed since then?
MB: Yeah, they have. I mean, I would say other than being two nursing homes located in the same town owned by the same Dallas-based company, Foursquare Healthcare. Another notable similarity is that it took a few weeks for both of these outbreaks to be announced to the public.
But aside from that, it seems like Midland health officials and nursing home staff were able to learn some lessons from the outbreak that occurred earlier in the year at Midland Medical Lodge.
AS: Where does [Ashton Medical Lodge] stand right now?
MB: At this point, it does seem like the facility has [the virus] contained, at least to a certain extent. Late last week, when a spokesperson for Ashton Medical Lodge provided us with numbers of [those] sick, there weren’t any active COVID-19 cases at the facility.