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Family of care center residents worry after COVID-19 deaths at second Linn County facility

Nancy and Carl Morning, who currently live at Linn Manor Care Center in Marion, pose in an...
Nancy and Carl Morning, who currently live at Linn Manor Care Center in Marion, pose in an undated photo. (Courtesy: Kimberly Morning)(KCRG)
Published: Apr. 13, 2020 at 11:59 PM CDT
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Carl and Nancy Morning moved in at Linn Manor Care Center in Marion over a year ago, and their daughter Kimberly said it’s been a good fit.

“Linn Manor is a wonderful care center. It really is,” Kimberly said. “The care and attention that they’re given is actually really phenomenal.”

Last week, Morning, who lives in Cedar Rapids, received two calls from Linn Manor — the first saying an employee had tested positive for the coronavirus, and the second saying that a resident was positive.

Both her parents share rooms with other residents, with beds separated by a curtain, so she asked if staff could tell her if the ill resident was one of their roommates.

“Because then, we could at least prepare for what might be coming. But they couldn’t even tell us that,” Kimberly said.

Since the end of last week, Kimberly said she hadn’t received an update from the facility on the spread of the virus, including news announced by Linn County Public Health at a press conference Monday that two residents had died from the virus, while three total employees had tested positive.

Heather Meador, Linn County Public Health’s clinical services branch supervisor, said the positive-testing employees were staying in isolation away from work, and that residents who had shown coronavirus symptoms were tested, with all the tests coming back negative. Morning said, to her knowledge, her parents had not been tested.

Meador said her department is now monitoring the situation at Linn Manor.

“We are working with them to help with guidance, to make sure they have enough PPE, to make sure that individuals who are symptomatic are tested,” Meador said.

They’re also working to make sure it doesn’t escalate to what’s happened at Heritage Specialty Care in Cedar Rapids, where, as of Monday, 102 residents and staff had tested positive for the coronavirus, and 17 residents had died. Meador also noted that 16 residents had recovered.

“You have one area where you have people that are high-risk, both professional and for people that live there, so, unfortunately, a nursing home is almost a breeding ground for something like this to happen,” Meador said.

Linn County Public Health said it’s monitoring all care facilities in Linn County, asking them to limit visitors and report sick employees and residents. At places like Heritage, Meador said an outbreak might to not be apparent immediately, and the results of mitigation efforts might not be either.

“Individuals may be sick for a very long time, so we’re going to see this there for a while just because the duration of illness is not just a few days. It can be weeks,” Meador said.

Kimberly Morning knows that firsthand. She tested positive for the coronavirus and has since recovered.

“If they go through what I went through, I just pray they’re strong enough because it was not easy,” Kimberly said.

Kimberly’s parents are both in their 80s, and her father has other health conditions, including heart problems. So she is now terrified because she and the rest of her family can’t help her parents if they do get sick.

“It’s not something you want to do when you can’t see your parents and be there for them. It’s — I don’t know. It’s just — it’s heartbreaking,” Kimberly said.

KCRG-TV9 reached out to Linn Manor Care Center for comment and will update this story on-air and online if and when we hear back.