Veteran coronavirus deaths tripled over the weekend, VA says

Abbie Bennett
March 30, 2020 - 3:04 pm
Coronavirus

Photo by William FBill Discher/Medical Research and Development Command

More than 1,100 veterans have tested positive for COVID-19 and at least 27 have died of the virus, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

The number of deaths nearly tripled over the weekend to at least 27, VA said March 30. The number of cases rose nearly 50 percent, to at least 1,166 nationwide. VA also said it had administered more than 13,216 tests nationwide. 

VA officials did not respond to multiple requests about how many of its staff had tested positive or died of the virus. 

The veterans who have died of the virus so far have all been in their 60s and older, and are spread across the United States, including in Detroit, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York, Tennessee and Washington, D.C. 

New Orleans remains the area hardest hit, with five veterans dying of the virus there on March 26 and 27 and at least 239 cases, 30 of which are in inpatient care. 

On March 29, VA announced it was activating its fourth mission, to serve as a backup for non-veteran hospitals. VA opened beds in its hospitals in New York City and deployed mobile units to California, New Orleans and New York. 

VA activates 'fourth mission' to back up civilian hospitals during coronavirus

Last week, VA released its COVID-19 response plan, including that the virus response may last 18 months and as many as 30 to 40 percent of its staff may be absent from work because of the virus. 

VA releases its COVID-19 plan

VA recently 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

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

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

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