Metro nursing home sees COVID-19 outbreak as residents start receiving first doses of vaccine

ATLANTA — Channel 2 Action News has learned that there is a new outbreak of COVID-19 at a metro Atlanta nursing home even though many residents at the facility already received the coronavirus vaccine.

It’s the news Diane Bowden has dreaded since the beginning of the pandemic.

“I was told that my mom tested positive for COVID,” Bowden said.

Her mother, Mary, tested positive for the virus shortly before she was set to get the vaccine.

“I was told that day. They called me and told me she could not get her vaccine because she tested positive,” Bowden told Channel 2′s Justin Wilfon.

Roughly two weeks later, after a fall in the shower and difficulty breathing, Mary died.

“Around 8 o’clock the doctor called and said mom was gone. I couldn’t grasp really what was happening,” Bowden said.

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She told Wilfon that she’s not sure whether her mother died of complications of the virus, but we do know Mary’s case is just one of a new outbreak of coronavirus cases at the A.G. Rhodes Wesley Woods Nursing Home in northeast Atlanta.

“It grieves my spirit to think about the risk those residents are in,” Bowden said.

According to information released by A.G. Rhodes, 12 residents at the facility are currently fighting the virus.

With the outbreak coming even as residents there receive their first round of the vaccine, an A.G. Rhodes representative told Wilfon that it shows once again the hurdles nursing homes face in beating the virus.

In a statement, the nursing home expressed:

“The nature of this highly infectious virus presents many challenges, but our tireless staff continue taking every feasible measure to protect the health and safety of residents. We are encouraged that the vaccine will be a potential turning point in our fight against this virus.”

Most of the home’s residents who have the virus already received the first dose of the vaccine, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated it can take a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination.

Those residents will need to wait to receive their second shot after testing negative.

It’s a reminder that even with the vaccine, the pandemic is far from over in Georgia’s nursing homes.

“I hope this situation never happens to anyone else,” Bowden said.

This comes as drugmaker Eli Lilly announced that it has created a new antibody-based drug that can help prevent COVID-19 infections.

Doctors tested it on patients and staff at nursing homes, and the drug reduced COVID-19 infections by 57%.

Eli Lilly also announced plans to ask U.S. health regulators to widen the drug’s authorized use to include protecting people in long-term care facilities.