VA works to help veterans impacted by COVID-19

SALISBURY, N.C. — As concerns about the spread of COVID-19 in North Carolina grow, Veterans Affairs is actively working to save the lives of veterans impacted by the virus.

The head of the department, Secretary Robert Wilkie said he is concerned about recent state health data that shows a spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations statewide.

He met with nurses and doctors in our area to discuss the steps his department is taking to keep veterans safe during the pandemic.

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Throughout the national VA system, 15,000 veterans have been infected. At the VA medical center in Salisbury, there have been 114 cases of the virus and 16 deaths.

Wilkie told Channel 9 the department does not plan to return to full operations at its facilities until the infection rate begins to level off in our communities.

He also said his department has sent in extra resources to help nursing homes like the North Carolina State Veterans Home in Salisbury where some of the state’s oldest veterans live. The facility has reported 47 cases of COVID-19 and 15 residents have died.

In recent weeks, the department has sent in experts to assist with outbreaks at state veterans homes.

“We’ve sent our teams in to help manage infection control, take best practices and give those to the folks running nursing homes,” he said. “We’ve taken in patients from homes into our facilities to care for them.”

Wilkie said the department has set the pace for implementing key health guidelines.

“We were the first ones to stop elective surgeries. We were the first to test people before they entered hospitals,” he said.

They have also taken part in clinical trials to help find treatments. Veterans have had the opportunity to try experimental drugs like Remdesivir.

According to health officials, the one Salisbury patient who requested to take the drug recently while in the intensive care unit is now doing much better.

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