Newton Care Center reported three dozen confirmed cases of COVID-19 last week among its residents and employees, a spokeswoman for the nursing home stated last week.

“We are doing everything we can to ensure we stop the spread of COVID-19 within our facility,” stated Holly Morris, vice president with Ide Management Group in a news release last week. “We currently have 26 confirmed positive COVID-19 residents and 10 confirmed COVID-19 employees. Despite our aggressive efforts, our first case occurred as a result of contact between a resident and an asymptomatic person, outside of the facility, in March. Upon return, we screened the resident, who showed no symptoms for several days, and we followed all then existing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and local and state departments of health. Unfortunately, the Coronavirus is very contagious, particularly among those vulnerable due to other health conditions.”

Two nursing home patients have died from the disease, adding to the tragedy of the sudden confirmation of so many new COVID-19 cases in less than a week.

Morris explained since the virus entered the facility, testing and other resources have become more readily available, and the CDC and health departments have updated their guidance. Ide Management Group is a company that provides skilled nursing care and manages many assisted living facilities like the one in Newton.

“Our infection control protocol has evolved, and we expect it to continue to evolve,” Morris wrote. “We will not be taking any new admissions of residents at this time as our focus is on caring for and serving the current residents in our facility, which is also their home.”

Jasper County Health Department reported last Wednesday 151 people in the county had been tested for COVID-19 and 77 of the tests were negative. There were 38 pending cases on April 22. One patient is hospitalized and one person, who earlier tested positive, has recovered. There are 28 Jasper residents ranging in age in their 60s to 90s infected by coronavirus. But persons younger in their 30s and 40s are also infected along with five people tested positive in their 50s or 60s.

The sudden increase in COVID-19 cases at the facility has shaken the community. People are offering food and other support as well as prayers. Newton Care Center is also seeking certified nursing assistants since so many staff members have been stricken by the disease.

Several Jasper County clergy offered prayers on Wednesday night at a local church and more than 300 people tuned into an electronic link to the prayer service for the sick, Care Center staff and families of those infected.

“We appreciate the continued support and assistance of the Jasper County Health Department and the Illinois State Department of Health. The Jasper County Health Department has been there for us, even on nights and weekends. Wear are beyond grateful to our dedicated staff and the support, care and understanding from our families and local community in this very difficult time,” Morris concluded.