The Covid-19 virus has claimed six more lives in the Newfane Rehabilitation and Health Center, bringing the death toll at that nursing home to 17 in the last nine days.
And the state Health Department, which had told local officials it would send personnel to investigate the situation Monday or Tuesday, speeded up that timetable and sent inspectors in Friday.
"As this is an ongoing investigation, we cannot comment further," department spokesman Jeffrey Hammond said.
Newfane Supervisor Timothy R. Horanburg said the town received one new death certificate Thursday afternoon, four Friday morning and one Friday afternoon from the nursing home, all citing Covid-19 as the cause of death.
There were two other deaths at the facility this week not blamed on Covid-19, Horanburg said.
There is a lag time before such information shows up in the Niagara County Health Department's daily roundup. The county announced no new deaths Friday, and its official countywide figure stands at 42 since the pandemic began.
Maximus Healthcare Group, which owns the Newfane facility, issued on Friday the company's first public response to the Covid-19 outbreak.
"All residents and staff have been tested for Covid-19," the statement said. "Our residents that have tested positive were immediately moved to a designated Covid unit within our facility away from the residents that are negative. The staff members that tested positive have been closely followed by the Health Department as required. We have consistent staffing assignments in place to protect the spread of the virus. All team members have been wearing appropriate CDC approved personal protective equipment to ensure the safety of our residents, and any residents who have tested positive or have symptoms have been isolated.
"Our staff have been trained in the policies of the facility regarding use of personal protective equipment and infection control policies," the statement continued. "We continue to screen all staff daily and take their temperature. We are consistently communicating with our residents’ responsible party regarding their condition. We continue to honor our residents and families wishes regarding treatment in place and/or no hospitalizations. We are working closely with our medical director, nurse practitioners, state and local Health Department while following the CDC guidelines. Many of our staff and residents are on the road to recovery."
The county announced 24 newly confirmed cases of the Covid-19 virus Friday, nine of them in Newfane. The town now has 97 confirmed cases, trailing only Niagara Falls' 156 among Niagara County communities, although Newfane ranks seventh in population in the county.
Public Health Director Daniel J. Stapleton has said as many as 80% of the cases in Newfane are in the nursing home.
State Health Department figures through Wednesday show as many as 15 patients – nine confirmed and six suspected – have died of the virus at Newfane Rehab since the pandemic began.
The county's total caseload since the pandemic began is now 664. Seventeen county residents are currently hospitalized with the virus, 273 are isolated at home and 332 are deemed to have recovered.
As of Friday, 205 people are in quarantine in Niagara County and 538 have completed quarantines.
As of Wednesday, 4,387 people have been tested in Niagara County, with 13.4% positive, according to state data.