Ely death attributed to COVID

Assisted living facility says four residents have died

by Tom Coombe

At least one resident of an Ely assisted living facility has died from COVID-19, and four deaths were reported there over the weekend.

A news release issued Tuesday by Carefree Living reported “with a heavy heart, four resident deaths within our community."

The news release did not identify COVID-19 as a cause of death, but an obituary notice indicated that the death of one of the residents, an 83-year-old woman from Ely, was attributed to the virus.

Local health officials indicated last week that there has been “an outbreak" of COVID-19 cases as the Ely assisted living facility, involving both residents and at least one staff member. Since Aug. 27, the cumulative count of COVID-19 cases within the Ely 55731 zip coded climbed from nine to 21, with several cases attributed to Carefree.

Carefree owner Merle Sampson said in the news release that “the Ely staff have provided the end of life care per family choice. No resident has been hospitalized. These special residents have been our family, friends and neighbors. Our dedicated and caring staff continue to provide the best care possible 24/7"

Carefree operates three assisted living units in Ely. One building has been "totally COVID free," according to the news release, while testing continues in the remaining two buildings on a weekly basis and will continue until there are two weeks of negative tests.

Sampson indicated that an unidentified number of Carefree residents have tested positive for the virus.

"We pray for our other residents who are positive for COVID will continue to recover," said Sampson.

As of Tuesday, there were 193 active cases of COVID-19 within St. Louis County, including four people who are hospitalized.

Statewide, COVID death totals have slowed while hospitalizations have decreased by roughly 60 percent since peaking in late-May. The virus has resulted in 1,927 death in Minnesota, with more than 70 percent of deaths involving residents of congregate care facilities such as assisted living or nursing homes.