By Marlee Ginter

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) –  One place the coronavirus has hit especially hard is nursing homes. Now, the California Department of Public Health is tracking the cases in skilled nursing facilities.

Nurse Sherri Martinez didn’t want to identity the California nursing facility where she works but she did share how she’s taking her own precautions.

“One of the things that I’ve been doing is getting garbage bags and putting them over my arms,” Martinez said.

Every precaution is critical considering concerns over a shortage of personal protective equipment, staffing issues and a lack of mandatory testing for residents and employees. Nancy Pries lost her husband of 40 years at a nursing home.

“I’ll never see him again. It’s over. We’ve been married for 40 something years,” Pries said.

The 76-year-old little league coach was staying at a nursing home in Hayward. Workers found him unresponsive but never tested him for the virus.

CBS News is keeping its own tally of coronavirus cases in nursing homes after reaching out to all 50 states – 19 responded with complete data. Officials confirmed more than 35,000 seniors and staff have tested positive for COVID-19 and more than 5700 have died.

Some of the hotspots in California include a Visalia nursing home where 157 out of its 167 residents have tested positive. Officials say 10 have died so far.

After an outbreak at Saint Johns Retirement Village in Woodland, Yolo County officials say they’re launching a contact investigation into the confirmed cases.

It’s stories like those that now have families worried as nursing homes across the state, including Eskaton Care Center in Fair Oaks, are taking in COVID-19 patients as they’re released from the hospital.

“The nurses and doctors are trying to help other people and I get that but I just don’t understand why they would blend them with the elderly people,” said Lydia Sizelove.

Sizelove’s mother is staying at Eskaton.

CDPH regularly updates the number of COVID-19 positive patients and healthcare workers on its website.

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