The death toll from COVID-19 is rising at the country's veterans hospitals — and not just among the patients.
Records released Sunday to the News4 I-Team show at least 23 Veterans Affairs employees have died of coronavirus, and a growing number of employees at the Washington DC VA Medical Center are in isolation.
More than 2,250 employees have tested positive for the virus in the U.S., according to the records. There are at least 66 cases among workers at the D.C. hospital and 16 employees tested positive at the Maryland VA Health Care System, which is centered in Baltimore.
Calvin Richardson Jr., a longtime addiction rehabilitation specialist at the DC VA hospital, fell ill on Easter Sunday and died. Richardson, 57, was a father and U.S. Army veteran.
His death is the first reported of an employee at the DC VA Medical Center during the virus crisis thus far.
The VA told News4 the infection rate among workers is lower than some private hospitals because of its policies on personal protective devices.
However, union leaders have told the I-Team there is a dangerous rationing of masks inside.
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The VA has cut off visitation from its 135 nursing homes nationwide, including the one in Northwest D.C.
As of last report, only one patient has tested positive at the D.C. nursing home and they were isolated.