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3 COVID-19 deaths at mental health hospital

By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News

Three patients at the Mary Starke Harper Geriatric Psychiatry Center in Tuscaloosa have died recently from COVID-19, the Alabama Department of Mental Health told Alabama Daily News on Tuesday.

There are 16 current cases of the virus among residents. Department spokeswoman Malissa Valdes-Hubert said 11 staff members at the facility have tested positive. All of them were asymptomatic.

No cases have been reported at the other two Alabama Department of Mental Health hospitals, both in Tuscaloosa, Valdes-Hubert said.

All residents and staff at Mary Starke Harper were tested last week. Members of the National Guard on Thursday will clean the hospital. The Guard has previously sanitized other state residential facilities, including veterans homes. 

Mary Starke Harper has capacity for 96 patients and last month the department’s medical director said that measures were being taken to limit patients’ interactions with one another. The hospital is divided into four units and so far, all but one of the COVID-19 cases have been limited within one unit.

Visits and new admissions at all three hospitals were stopped in March.

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