Fourth resident of Ridgefield assisted-living facility dies
RIDGEFIELD — The unrelenting and highly contagious coronavirus has killed a fourth resident of a Ridgefield assisted living facility Saturday, raising the town’s total fatalities to five.
The four were residents of Benchmark Senior Living at Ridgefield Crossing, an assisted-living facility on Route 7, next to the Laurel Ridge nursing home.
“Sadly we have lost another resident of Ridgefield Crossings, now bringing our total death toll to five,” Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi said around 7:15 p.m. Saturday.
An 88-year-old man was the first person to die of coronavirus in Connecticut, state officials said. He died March 18 at Danbury Hospital.
Benchmark operates a number of senior facilities in Connecticut.
On Saturday, Gov. Ned Lamont reported 1,524 coronavirus cases, and 33 deaths. Ridgefield has 58 coronavirus cases, Marconi said.
“The age range right now is from an age of 12 to in the late 80s,” Ridgefield Health Director Ed Briggs said.
Briggs urged people use social distancing not only with strangers, but within households.
“You also have to maintain social distancing at the house,” Briggs said. “If you have separate bathrooms, use separate bathrooms,” he said. “Try to distance yourselves.”
Briggs Benchmark Senior Living at Ridgefield Crossings, said it is taking rigorous health and safety measures and operating under strict limitations.
“It’s on lockdown,” Marconi said. “No one’s allowed in or out.
“We hope the people there who are seniors do make it through,” Marconi said. “Our prayers are with them.”
Marconi said Ridgefield likely will have more cases. “It’s going to continue to climb; some of those cases will be severe,” he said.
The Benchmark Senior Living assisted-living home in Ridgefield, which includes a memory-care facility for people with cases of dementia, also shares some part-time nursing aides with Laurel Ridge, a separate nursing home located on the same campus.
In a statement earlier in the week, Benchmark Senior Living said they could not prevent workers from working at other companies that would take them outside of Ridgefield Crossings.
Part time workers at Ridgefield Crossings have worked at Laurel Ridge, an adjacent nursing home owned by Athena Health Care Systems, which operates a facility in Stafford Springs, Conn., that has seen two coronavirus related deaths.
The company said it has started asking employees if they have other jobs as a way to suggest they could be exposed to the coronavirus.
The company declined to say how many employees worked at other jobs or where they worked, citing the employees’ privacy .
Officials at both Ridgefield Crossings and Athena Health Care Systems, which owns Laurel Ridge said they are taking steps to halt the spread of the virus. Those include taking the temperatures of their employees daily and having them don protective personal equipment.
State Health Commissioner Renee Coleman-Mitchell said the state is investigating all contacts between patients and staff at nursing homes.
Lamont has repeatedly brought up testing and monitoring at nursing homes. Lamont has expressed concern about preventing what happened in Washington state, where the virus raged through a nursing home near Seattle, killing 13 residents.