Two veterans die from coronavirus at New York VA hospitals

By NIKKI WENTLING | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 24, 2020

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WASHINGTON — Two more veterans died after testing positive for the coronavirus, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced Tuesday.

Both veterans were being treated at VA facilities in New York — one at the New York Harbor Healthcare System and the other at the Bronx VA Medical Center. The veterans’ identities had not been made public Tuesday. The veteran at New York Harbor, in his or her 70s, died Friday, and the veteran at the Bronx VA, who was in his or her 60s, died Saturday.

The announcement doubled the number of coronavirus deaths at VA facilities from two to four. A 70-year-old man died at the VA hospital in Portland, Ore., on March 14. A veteran in his mid-90s died March 19 at the White River Junction VA Medical Center in Vermont.

The VA, which operates 172 hospitals and serves more than 9 million veterans, reported Tuesday that it had administered 2,726 coronavirus tests nationwide.

The department had 296 positive cases across 74 VA facilities Tuesday. On Monday, the VA reported 204 cases across 50 locations. 

New Orleans continues to account for many of the coronavirus patients in the VA system, with 63. Behind New Orleans, the locations with the most cases were Atlanta with 17, New York Harbor with 13 and Washington, D.C., with 10.

A spokesman for the New Orleans VA Medical Center said Monday it was unclear why the facility had so many more patients than other VA hospitals. 

VA Secretary Robert Wilkie told veterans organizations Sunday he had sent teams of medical professionals to help with the pandemic response in New York City and was preparing to send more to New Orleans.

Twitter: @nikkiwentling

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