There are three nursing homes in Forrest County with active COVID-19 outbreaks, according to information released Wednesday night by the Mississippi State Department of Health, and one of those facilities has experienced 25 patient deaths, or 86 percent of the county’s total deaths in long-term care facilities.
Cumulatively, there have been 55 employee cases, 92 resident cases and 25 deaths at Bedford Care Center of Hattiesburg, which has a capacity of 152 residents.
Other active outbreaks are present at Windham House of Hattiesburg, which reported one employee case, and Hattiesburg Health and Rehab, which reported three employee cases.
The Health Department considers an outbreak to be one or more positive residents or one or more positive employees. There have been 29 deaths in long-term care facilities, a classification by the state that includes nursing homes, within the county.
The department also provided The PineBelt NEWS with information on closed outbreaks. According to this information, Bedford Care Center of Petal had two employee cases, and the Brookdale II senior living facility had nine employee cases, 11 resident cases and four deaths. The Forrest General Hospital Skilled Nursing Unit had one employee case and one resident case.
The Bedford Alzheimer’s Care Center had one employee case, as did the Forrest General Rehab facility.
The Health Department released this information only after a lawsuit filed by The PineBelt NEWS and a court order from Hinds County Chancery Court Judge Tiffany Grove. Newspaper staff members have sought more information on Forrest County outbreaks since April 5, the first day a case was announced in a long-term care facility within the county. The newspaper filed a public records request on April 6, but department officials did not respond within the seven-day time frame as required by law.
The newspaper subsequently filed a complaint with the Mississippi Ethics Commission and a lawsuit. In a May 26 ruling, Grove ordered the department to respond to the records request, which sought the names of affected facilities, ownership information and the number of affected residents.
Grove found that the department failed to comply with state law in producing the requested records within seven days and also failed to provide a written explanation of why the documents could not be produced in that time frame.
Additionally, the judge ruled that the department failed to provide a written statement of a specific exemption to state law relied upon for denial of the requested records.
Department officials said Tuesday they would begin releasing the names of affected facilities across the state daily on their website.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.