A woman is seen bringing food into the Grace Skilled Nursing and Therapy in Norman on March 26. (Whitney Bryen/Oklahoma Watch)

Five of the 34 Oklahomans who have died from the COVID-19 disease resided in long-term care or nursing home facilities, the Oklahoma State Department of Health reported Thursday.

It was the first time the agency had included that number in its daily “COVID-19 Status” report, which includes a roundup of statistics about COVID-19 cases, deaths, number of people hospitalized,  laboratory tests and other data.

The report didn’t indicate how many residents have tested positive among the more than 600 long-term care facilities in Oklahoma. Those include nursing homes, which number 299, as well as assisted living centers, adult day care centers, residential care homes, veterans centers, continuum-of-care centers and intermediate-care facilities for people with intellectual disabilities.

Among the five deaths, two occurred at a nursing home in Norman, Grace Skilled Nursing and Therapy, the facility reported last week. Seven other residents at the home tested positive with the coronavirus. One resident of the Ponca City Nursing and Rehabilitation Center tested positive, according to news reports.

Many nursing homes have imposed strict controls since the advent of COVID-19, prohibiting visitors, restricting residents to their rooms and intensifying efforts to clean and sanitize.

A recent Oklahoma Watch analysis of state health inspections of the state’s nursing homes from late 2017 through 2019 found that more than half were cited for infection control and prevention violations, the most common violation.

No infection-control violations have been tied to any of the coronavirus cases or deaths in long-term care facilities. It’s unknown if health inspectors are checking practices at facilities where residents tested positive for the virus.

A nursing home in Washington tied to 40 COVID-19 deaths was fined more than $611,000 by federal officials, the Washington Post reported Thursday. Among the violations was failing to report an outbreak of respiratory illness to local authorities within two weeks, as required by law, and giving inadequate care to residents during the outbreak.

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