- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 24, 2020

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut health officials on Tuesday urged families of nursing home residents to not bring their loved ones home for Thanksgiving, as part of efforts to prevent and curb coronavirus infections in long-term care centers.

“We certainly understand the desire for loved ones to be together over the holidays,” said Dr. Deidre Gifford, acting state public health commissioner. “We are all experiencing that. However, it does pose a particular risk for the elderly to be exposed to individuals who they don’t live with.”

Not visiting family over the holidays will also help keep the staff of long-term care facilities safe, she added.

Gifford’s comments followed ones on Monday by Gov. Ned Lamont, who urged families to limit their Thanksgiving gatherings as much as possible to prevent spreading the virus. Connecticut has limited private gatherings to 10 people.

According to the latest state data released last week, the numbers of Connecticut nursing home residents who are testing positive for the coronavirus and dying from the disease have more than tripled over the past month amid a second COVID-19 surge statewide.

For the week of Nov. 11 to 17, there were 306 nursing home residents who tested positive for the virus and 39 died, compared with 71 positive tests and 15 deaths during the week of Oct. 14 to 20. During the same periods, the number of staff members infected increased from 86 to 262, but none of them died, state data show.

Gifford and other health officials spoke to the media by video conference Tuesday about how the state is reopening health care centers dedicated solely to COVID-19 patients. The centers treat patients discharged from the hospital before they return to nursing homes and other locations, helping to prevent the spread of the virus.

Plans call for four COVID-19 “recovery centers” with a total of 334 beds, and possibly increasing total beds to up to 400. Three centers have already opened and had 95 patients as of Monday, including Quinnipiac Valley Center in Wallingford, Riverside Health and Rehabilitation Center in East Hartford and the former Westfield Care and Rehabilitation Center in Meriden.

Another center, Torrington Health & Rehabilitation in Torrington, is expected to open the first week of December. Officials also are looking at opening a recovery center in eastern Connecticut.

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