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27 patients test positive for COVID-19 at southside nursing home

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TUCSON - A large portion of the residents at a skilled nursing home on the city's southside have tested positive for the coronavirus.

According to a statement that was sent out Monday morning by Sapphire of Tucson Nursing and Rehabilitation, they confirmed that 24 patients and three staff members tested positive.

Just after the news was made public on Monday, an employee posted on Facebook video of another employee playing the piano.

The one employee wrote that the music calmed her heart and soul. It probably did the same for the patients.

The facility opened its doors in 2018 and has 240 beds.

An emotional and concerned mother, who asked not to be identified, told News 4 Tucson she had not been able to speak to her son who is a resident at the facility. 

"Friday I got a call from the facility saying someone there at the facility had tested positive for the virus, but they were on the second floor," the mother said. "I asked to speak to my son and they couldn't get him at that time and they would have call her back.  He called me and said 'Hey mom, I'm O.K. but they are doing a lot of tests on me'."

She said she hasn't heard from him since and has no idea if he is among the 27 patients who tested positive for the coronavirus. 

"I've been calling since 11:30 this morning and no answers," she said.

Just 10 days ago in a Facebook post, the assistant administrator reached out to the community. 

She wrote in part: "We have been told to socially isolate, stop group activities, and changed many things about our daily routines."

She also wrote, "This has drastically changed the lives and activity level of all of our residents who are the most at-risk population."

Furthermore, the assistant administrator asked the community to write letters or cards to the residents and called it, Pen Pal Initiative of 2020.  

Sapphire of Tucson will not comment on who was taken to hospitals but they did say they followed transfer guidelines from the Pima County Health Department, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the American Health Care Association/National Association for assisted living.

There is no word yet on how the virus made it into the facility.

Stay with News 4 Tucson to find out more details on this story as they become available.

Lupita Murillo

Lupita Murillo is an investigative reporter. She is part of the Digging Deeper team that uncovers important issues focusing on crime that affects the community.

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