As a preventative measure against the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Piatt County Nursing Home has been closed to visitors, including family, effective immediately.

The same measures are in effect for Maple Point Supportive Living, which is connected to the nursing home.

“This was not a decision that we made lightly, and we understand that this will be a hardship on both the residents and their loved ones,” said Nursing Home Director Scott Porter.

“However, given the potential threat of the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Piatt County Nursing Home is taking this unprecedented step. The restriction on visitors will be in effect starting March 12 and will be in place until further notice,” he added.

The decision is preventative at this point, as no cases of coronavirus have been diagnosed at the nursing home. But Porter said the elderly and those with suppressed immune symptoms are especially susceptible to the virus, which has caused 36 deaths in the United States.

“COVID-19 seems to be the perfect killer when it comes to people with immune issues, respiratory issues, so we couldn't take this more seriously,” Porter told the county board nursing home committee on Thursday.

The nursing home began to limit visitors last Friday, asking for those under 18 years of age or people exhibiting signs of illness to stay away. That ramped up as more cases of coronavirus were reported in the United States. Hand washing stations were put at facility entrances, and staff and visitors are assessed to make sure they do not show flu-like symptoms before being admitted.

This latest step goes further, essentially shutting down the nursing home to visitors except when medically necessary.

Tom Corbin, whose wife as a resident of the nursing home, said it would be a struggle for him not to visit, but understood the decision.

“It comes down to the safety of the residents, and whatever hardship I go through is not going to be anything like if it gets into the building,” Corbin told the nursing home committee.

“The administration and staff of the Piatt County Nursing Home would like to thank you for your cooperation, patience, and understanding during this difficult time,” added Porter in a letter and email sent to families of current patients.