ROSS TOWNSHIP, Pa. (KDKA) — Since the early days of the pandemic, the coronavirus infiltrated the halls of nursing homes across the state.

At its peak, more than 500 long-term care residents, on average, tested positive each week.

But now there’s a positive sign that could give hope to local families.

KDKA’s Meghan Schiller combed through the new numbers released Thursday from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

“They opened the window about four inches and my dad came out the window,” said Gary Williams.

Williams misses his father terribly. His dad, Jay, turned 85 this week and the family celebrated with cake.

“He was all smiles and just like, ‘Oh, I’m 85?’ And it was good to see him,” said Williams.

He’s encouraged by the updated nursing home numbers. A new graph shows the sharp decline of coronavirus positive residents inside Pennsylvania’s long-term care facilities. At its peak, we saw nearly 560 residents test positive each week across the state. Today, we’re averaging case counts down in the 40s.

“And that just means my mother gets closer to seeing my dad and the rest of the family. So yeah, we’re encouraged and we’re hoping that before the summer’s out we’ll be able to see him,” said Williams.

When it comes to staff employees testing positive, those numbers are down too.

New data shows an average of at least 100 staff employees tested positive every week in early May and now we’re averaging less than a dozen cases.

KDKA News learned Thursday that two more staff employees at Brighton Rehab and Wellness Center tested positive.

“Without question, Brighton was short-staffed, undersupplied and poorly tested,” said Attorney David Kwass, partner, Saltz Mongeluzzi and Bendesky.

Kwass filed the first wrongful death lawsuit against the Beaver Co. center in honor of Elizabeth Wiles, a housekeeper at the facility.

He said residents, nursing aids and local attorneys are now reaching out to him.

“It just seems as though everything we’re hearing from the inside is confirming everything that we thought, everything that we expected,” said Kwass.

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Cases at Brighton aren’t declining this week, but they aren’t increasing either. Data from the state Department of Health shows 322 residents and 111 staff employees are still listed as positive.

The Allegheny County Health Department Director Dr. Debra Bogen released a statement, saying:

“COVID-19 presented long-term care facilities with a major challenge, both locally and around the country. Staff at facilities around the county, the Allegheny County Health Department, and the Pennsylvania Department of Health have worked collaboratively to slow the spread of the virus in these settings. Protecting our most vulnerable residents is an important part of protecting the health of all.

“The Allegheny County Health Department continues to work closely with long-term care facilities, including responding to the recent increase in cases and in new facilities to slow the spread.”

Meghan Schiller