In the days before the Life Care Center nursing home became ground zero for coronavirus deaths in the U.S., there were few signs it was girding against an illness spreading rapidly around the world.
Visitors came in as they always did, sometimes without signing in. Staffers had only recently begun wearing face masks, but the frail residents and those who came to see them were not asked to do so. And organized events went on as planned, including a purple- and gold-festooned Mardi Gras party last week, where dozens of residents and visitors packed into a common room, passed plates of sausage, rice and king cake, and sang as a Dixieland band played “When the Saints Go Marching In.”
“We were all eating, drinking, singing and clapping to the music,” said Pat McCauley, who was there visiting a friend. “In hindsight, it was a real germ-fest.”