Attorney for Omaha driver going 97 mph in fatal crash says COVID may be to blame

Could COVID-19 have caused a 97 mph crash that killed a retired Millard Public Schools teacher?

An attorney for driver Gerard Skutnik, 55, said Skutnik believed he was suffering from the coronavirus and blacked out on 144th Street on his way to get tested on Nov. 29. Skutnik drove his Toyota Tundra truck 96.9 mph and caused a collision that killed a retired teacher who had been stopped at a red light at 144th Street and Eldorado Drive, according to a police affidavit.

Nebraska attorney Glenn Shapiro said he wants to gather more information but speculated as to whether brain fog or respiratory distress may have caused his client to drive more than twice the 45 mph speed limit and ram into three cars that

Michigan auditor general says COVID deaths 30% higher than reported

The State of Michigan says of roughly 28,000 deaths related to COVID-19, a little more than 6,000 of them were in long-term care facilities, including nursing homes. But a new report coming out on Monday will reportedly show that number is higher. So why the discrepancy?

The state says their data is right, even as the data was released following a lawsuit filed by the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, on behalf of former FOX 2 reporter Charlie LeDuff. The suit was to force MDHHS to turn over numbers and the department settled.

Steve Delie from the Mackinac Center says that the public has a right to know how many people in these facilities that house the elderly have passed away from COVID-19.

Facilities that have fewer than 13 beds are not counted in the state’s data – and that includes adult foster care, homes for the aged, and skilled nursing facilities. If those were included, the number would be at least 30% higher.

It may all come down to the definition of long-term care facilities.

“It seems to be a lot of definitional fighting,” he said

First COVID-19 death claim in San Bernardino County jails filed

The first wrongful death claim stemming from COVID-19 in San Bernardino County jails has been filed against the county and the Sheriff’s Department amid a resurgence in coronavirus-related illnesses among inmates.

The uptick, sparking outcry from prison rights activists, mirrors a seasonal surge in COVID-19 cases across the Inland Empire and Southern California that is flooding hospital emergency rooms and causing traffic jams at coronavirus testing sites.

As of Dec. 28, the Sheriff’s Department reported four new coronavirus cases in the past week at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, two at the High Desert Detention Center in Adelanto, and one at the Central Detention Center in San Bernardino. No new cases were reported at the Glen Helen Rehabilitation Center in Devore. One inmate was hospitalized with COVID-19, sheriff’s spokeswoman Mara Rodriguez said.

Since COVID-19 testing began in San Bernardino County jails in 2020, 2.9% of the total inmate population has tested positive for the potential deadly virus, with 1,671 of approximately 57,500 inmates testing positive and 389 other inmates awaiting test results, Rodriguez said.

Failure to Care; Nursing Home Ravaged By Covid-19

Kathleen Escobar will never forget the day in November 2020 when COVID-19 hit the memory care center where her mother lived. 

An aide from Table Rock Memory Care in Medford called to tell Escobar three of the facility’s residents had COVID infections. The aide reassured her: Escobar’s 88-year-old mother, Peggy James, showed no signs of having COVID.

But the news alarmed Escobar. She lived a few minutes away — she could dash over and bring her mother home until the COVID outbreak at Table Rock ended. The Table Rock aide told her that wouldn’t be necessary. The residents with COVID had been isolated. Her mother was safe. 

“They acted like it was no big deal,” Escobar says. “They were very much like, ‘It’s all right. Don’t worry about it.’”

It wasn’t all right. Table Rock failed to contain the outbreak, and within days, the number of cases exploded from a few to 87. 

Three days after telling Escobar there was nothing to worry about, Table Rock called back to report her mother now had COVID. “My mother suffered terribly,” Escobar says. “She had no idea what was happening to her.” On Dec. 3, 2020, Peggy James died from pneumonia brought on by COVID.

Eventually, 19 people died in the COVID outbreak at Table Rock. Escobar says she still struggles with anger toward Table Rock for failing to protect its residents and guilt that she didn’t rescue her mother when she had the chance. 

“I think about it all the time,” she says now. “It was the worst mistake I ever made in my life.”

California’s Biggest Nursing Home Owner Faces Lawsuit over 24 COVID-Related Deaths

California’s largest nursing home owner, Shlomo Rechnitz, is facing a lawsuit alleging that one of his homes is responsible for the COVID-related deaths of some 24 elderly and dependent residents.

Rechnitz is the Los Angeles-based, multi-billionaire owner of Brius Healthcare, the largest nursing home company in California. In 1998, Rechnitz began his business career by selling supplies—such as latex gloves, adult diapers, and wheelchairs—to nursing homes with his twin brother, Steve. Together, they founded and operated TwinMed, LLC, and have grown it into a nation-wide distributor of medical supplies and services.

Brius owns two nursing homes in Santa Clara County, Cupertino Healthcare & Wellness Center and San Jose Healthcare & Wellness Center, plus five in Alameda County and one in Contra Costa County. Brius and affiliated companies own 81 skilled nursing facilities in California. Brius controls about one in every 14 nursing beds in the state.

Brius has repeatedly been fined, sued, and sanctioned by local, state, and federal agencies for providing substandard care to nursing home residents. According to the Sacramento Bee, Brius-owned nursing homes were “tagged with nearly triple as many serious deficiencies per 1,000 beds as the statewide average in 2014.” Families and residents have filed multiple lawsuits against Rechnitz and Brius for allegations including wrongful death and nursing home abuse. 

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