6 veterans have died of COVID-19 and nearly 500 are infected, VA says

Abbie Bennett
March 26, 2020 - 6:06 pm
coronavirus

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Two more veterans have died of the coronavirus and the Department of Veterans Affairs is tracking nearly 500 who have been infected.

A total of at least six veterans have died of complications from the virus, VA officials said Thursday. 

The most recent two were a veteran in their 70s who died March 22 at the Indianapolis VA and a veteran in their 60s who died March 21 at the Jesse Brown VA in Chicago. 

VA also said it was tracking at least 484 cases of veterans testing positive for the virus, up from 365 a day prior -- the second sharp increase this week. VA had administered "over 3,378 tests nationwide" as of March 26. 

Veterans, family members and advocates told Connecting Vets the number is likely larger.

VA officials cited privacy concerns when declining to provide additional details about the deceased or infected veterans.

The area with the greatest concentration of infected veterans was still New Orleans with 123 cases. The New York area had more than 60 cases and Atlanta had 29.

While VA leaders including Wilkie continued to reassure the public that VA capacity is not strained by its coronavirus response and that supplies, equipment and staff are at adequate levels, veterans, like many Americans, are still concerned.

Calls to veteran crisis hotline up 12 percent during COVID-19 outbreak, Wilkie tells VSOs

VA put out a call to its retired doctors, nurses and other medical staff, asking them to return to work to help with the coronavirus response. 

VA asks retired doctors, nurses to return to duty to help fight COVID-19

Over recent weeks, VA has shut down visitation at its nursing homes and other facilities with vulnerable veterans, later expanding that to most of its facilities. 

VA officials are asking veterans with symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath to call before arriving at a VA medical facility. Many appointments are being moved online using VA’s telehealth system in an attempt to further prevent the spread of infection. 

VA already began canceling elective surgeries and other procedures to pivot its focus more fully to immediate needs, including virus response. 

VA also produced a guide for veterans on coronavirus

Scammers are using fake COVID-19 tests to trick Tricare beneficiaries, DHA warns

VA wants to 'pause' the Mission Act for 90 days over coronavirus

VA is a last line of defense in the US against national medical emergencies like pandemics

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If you or someone you know needs help, contact the Veteran Crisis Line 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255 (select option 1 for a VA staff member). Veterans, service members or their families also can text 838255 or go to veteranscrisisline.net.

Reach Abbie Bennett: abbie@connectingvets.com or @AbbieRBennett.

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