Coronavirus cases surge in nursing homes across the country

COVID-19 cases rise at nursing homes
COVID-19 cases rise at nursing homes 02:05

Last Updated Apr 8, 2020 7:31 PM EDT

Across the country, we're seeing an alarming rise in coronavirus cases in nursing homes. More than half of the nursing homes in New Jersey have at least one case. Three patients have died at a nursing home in Missouri. 

At a home near Richmond, Virginia, 33 have died. This is the system at a breaking point.

More than 80 nursing home residents have been evacuated in ambulances from a facility in Riverside, California, after 39 cases of coronavirus, and after nurses — presumably fearing for their own safety — refused to show up.

"I think their fear might have led them to make a decision that might not have been the right decision for the patient," Riverside County Public Health spokesperson Jose Arballo told CBS News.

The pictures are all too familiar. In Washington state, New Jersey, Maryland and a growing number in California.

"People are terrified!" It's very distressing for family members," said California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform Executive Director Pat McGinnis.

It's a dilemma facing Wendy Ezzes whose 90-year-old mother is in a Southern California nursing home.

"I'm nervous for her getting ill, and I'm nervous about how am I supposed to help her?" Ezzes said. "What is the best thing for me to do?"

She called her mom and allowed CBS News to listen in.

"I think I'm as safe here as I could be anywhere," her mother, Dorothy, said. "They're doing everything they can to keep us safe. And I have a lot of faith in them."

Now, Los Angeles county is telling families to consider moving their relatives out.

"That's much easier said than done," McGinnis said. "I would if I could if I had a relative in a nursing home. But most people can't. That's why somebody is in skilled nursing care in the first place."

But now it's getting harder to find those willing to staff these centers.

"I understand both sides," one volunteer nurse said. "Somebody has to take care of the people, but at the same time, you do have to go home to your family members."