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National Guard to step in for COVID-19 testing at Littleton senior facility

“This has been a long and difficult week."

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The National Guard is stepping in to help as the residents of Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley will go through “extensive testing” for COVID-19 on Friday, Littleton town officials said.

The announcement of testing, and the Guard’s assistance, comes after 17 people, including one resident who died, tested positive for the disease. Of the survivors, eight are residents and eight are staff.

“This has been a long and difficult week. We have been in touch with families that have loved ones in the Life Care Center facility,” town officials said in a joint statement. “Today alone, we have had numerous calls with the Department of Public Health, the Massachusetts National Guard, our Board of Health Director and our elected officials in Boston and Washington.”

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The Nashoba Valley facility is operated by Life Care Centers of America, the same company that operates the facility in Kirkland, Washington, linked to 37 deaths from the virus.

“Our primary concern is for the health and safety of our residents, nursing staff and other care providers. They are on the front line of this unprecedented outbreak,” the company said in a statement. “Our staff is trained in proper use of PPEs and are following all relevant guidelines in infection control. They are putting in heroic efforts to ensure that our patients are receiving the best care.”

A resident was brought to a nearby hospital on March 27, part of the company’s statement says. They tested positive for COVID-19 the following day. The eight additional residents who tested positive were all brought to local hospitals. The eight workers who tested positive are home and recovering, and will not return to work until they meet state-mandated requirements.

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The facility has not allowed visitors since early March, and only “essential personnel” are allowed inside; the workers are screened when they begin work and before they leave, the statement said.

Town officials said they will “continue to aggressively monitor” the facility.

“It is our sincere hope that the actions taken today will save lives and further ensure that those vulnerable members of our communities under long-term care, will be protected as much as possible from the COVID-19 pandemic,” they said.

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