Eighteen people are dead after a COVID-19 outbreak spread across two separate nursing homes in the Pittsburgh area.
The outbreaks emerged at two facilities run by Quality Life Services at a facility in Apollo and another in Sarver, a local CBS affiliate KDKA-TV reported.
Both facilities, among eight others located in Butler County, remained coronavirus-free during the summer.
Since the beginning of this month, nine residents at the facility in Apollo have died due to COVID-19.
Additionally, 77 of the 113 residents have tested positive, and 32 staff members have also contracted the illness.
The facility in Sarver is also undergoing the stress of high caseloads, with 27 of the 49 residents infected and nine other fatalities reported due to the disease.
COVID-19 poses a greater risk to individuals with compromised immune systems and those over the age of 60.
“There are no words to describe what this COVID has done to the nursing home business in general,” said Paul McGuire, Quality Life Services’s chief operating officer.
The spike at Quality Life's facilities prompted the company to request assistance from the Pennsylvania National Guard, remaining onsite at both locations since Nov. 10 to fill in for quarantining staff members.
Guard members will leave this week as most staff members have been able to return.
McQuire said the rise of infections at the assisted living facilities could have spread from recent outbreaks in Butler and Westmoreland counties.
“It is so prevalent in the community, and it’s just going in through our employees because we have been very restrictive with our visitation,” McGuire said.
In recent inspections, both facilities were found in compliance with recommended pandemic health protocols.
Still, one former kitchen aide who quit in August said some staff members were cutting corners with safety, claiming some would walk around with exposed nostrils or "masks under their chins," said Emily Lineaweaver.
McGuire said he was not aware of any compliance issues, noting that mask use is strictly enforced, but noted, "We can’t be with the employees 100 percent of the time."
Despite the toll the virus has taken on Quality Life Services, the company is hopeful the virus has run its course and stability will return to both facilities.