BENTON HARBOR — A cluster of COVID-19 cases has been identified at a long-term care facility in Benton Harbor.

The Berrien County Health Department (BCHD) reported in a news release Monday that it, along with Spectrum Health Lakeland, is investigating multiple cases of COVID-19 at Hallmark Living Benton Harbor.

To date, four employees and four residents have tested positive for COVID-19. Three of the residents who tested positive, and had been terminally ill prior to COVID-19 diagnosis, have died, the health department reported.

“We have known that COVID-19 is present in our community, but this cluster of illnesses and loss of life at a facility serving some of our most vulnerable in our population is a sobering reminder that our community must continue to be vigilant with our actions to keep this virus from spreading,” Nicki Britten, health officer at the BCHD, said in the news release.

The employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 are isolating at home and are no longer having contact with any of the facility residents, according to the health department. The facility residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 are being isolated in their rooms and all group activities have been canceled at this time.

All residents and employees are being monitored for COVID-19 symptoms.

The BCHD reported that the Hallmark Living Center, located at 1385 E. Empire Ave., has implemented the following procedures: taking temperatures on all residents and staff twice a day; shutting down all communal spaces and quarantining residents to their rooms; prohibiting all visitors to the facility; enhancing hand hygiene and use of personal protective equipment for staff and enhanced cleaning and disinfection of the facility.

The health department said it will continue to monitor this group of positive cases, as well as provide needed personal protective equipment and infection control guidance needed by the facility, and others like it.

Monday case update

The health department reported two more deaths locally from COVID-19 on Sunday and Monday.

Sunday’s reported death was a man over the age of 70 who had died earlier in the week and tested positive for COVID-19 after his death.

The death reported Monday was “an older male with underlying health conditions.”

These two deaths have brought Berrien County’s total deaths from COVID-19 to five.

All five cases have been older men with underlying health conditions.

The BCHD reported Monday that it now has 105 positive cases, a rise of only one case from Sunday. In addition, 53 people have recovered from the virus.

The health department continues to perform contact tracing for all identified COVID-19 positive individuals in Berrien County, resulting in over 1500 contacts made so far.

In Van Buren County, there are 22 positive cases of COVID-19, up from 21 reported Sunday.

Cass County remains steady at 11 positive cases. Both counties still have one death.

The state and county health departments update the number of positive COVID-19 cases at 3 p.m. each day. For state numbers, visit www.michigan.gov/coronavirus.

Local numbers and information can be found at www.bchdmi.org, and at www.vbcassdhd.org/covid-19.

Drive-thru testing

InterCare Community Health Network, which has a clinic in Benton Harbor, announced it will work Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to operate a drive-thru testing site for COVID-19 in Berrien County at 800 M-139, Benton Harbor. The purpose is to expand testing capabilities, refer patients to care and relieve overburdened hospitals, the agency said in a news release.

InterCare said the Benton Harbor site is open now to all local residents. Residents with symptoms but who do not have a referral should first call 855-869-6900 for more information.

“Our mission is to improve community health by providing comprehensive, patient-centered primary health care,” said Velma Hendershott, chief executive officer of InterCare Community Health Network. “As we find ourselves in unique and unprecedented times, we are pleased to have the opportunity to partner with MDHHS in this initiative as we continue to work to increase access and improve community health.”

Contact: anewman@TheHP.com, 932-0357, Twitter: @HPANewman