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Texas nursing home deaths rise as families beg for information

The state still refuses to release the names of facilities with confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths.

AUSTIN, Texas — Several people contacted the KVUE Defenders, saying nursing home staff confirmed multiple cases of COVID-19 at West Oaks Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Austin.

Those families with loved ones inside tell KVUE they are worried for their safety and they're desperate for more information.

"My only inner feelings are that it's hard to believe that my mom has not gotten sick already," Jose Hernandez, whose mom lives in West Oaks, said.

Hernandez said staff at the nursing home told him several patients have tested positive for COVID-19.

"It's scary. It's very scary," Melinda Razo, whose father also lives at West Oaks, said.

RELATED: Coronavirus spreads through Texas nursing homes. The State doesn't want you to know where

Razo said her dad came into contact with one of those coronavirus patients. But she didn't find out until he started showing symptoms days later.

"If you could have told us a while back, you know, at least let us know he'd been exposed to somebody. But they never told us," Razo said.

The KVUE Defenders left a message for a spokesperson with the nursing home's corporate office trying to confirm how many people inside have the virus. No one responded to that request.

Texas Health and Human Services reports as of Wednesday, 221 facilities have at least one case of the virus – more than 17% of all nursing homes in the state – and 98 people have died.

Credit: KVUE
More than 200 nursing homes have at least one confirmed case of COVID-19 in Texas.

Another 59 positive cases come from inside Texas assisted living facilities, which is about 3%. There have been 30 coronavirus-related deaths.

But families want to know the names of those facilities with the virus.

Credit: KVUE
There have been 30 coronavirus-related deaths associated with assisted living facilities in Texas.

"They have to provide more information to us so we know what the real situation is happening in there," Hernandez said.

The state refuses to release facility names, citing a federal law prohibiting disclosure of protected health information.

RELATED: Federal health officials under pressure to publicly track nursing home outbreaks

"Information such as a person's address is included as an identifier that cannot be disclosed without that person's consent," HHSC spokesperson Christine Mann said in an email.

"People put their loved ones in there to be taken care of and expect for them to have that care, expect to be told what is going on in there," Razo said. "And it's scary when we don't know at all."

The state is expected to release new numbers on COVID-19 cases and deaths in Texas nursing homes on Friday.

RELATED: Reports: More than a dozen bodies found at New Jersey nursing home hit by COVID-19

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