Coronavirus outbreak: 7 dead, 65 total COVID-19 cases at Gateway Care & Rehab Center in Hayward

HAYWARD,Calif. (KGO) -- The number of confirmed COVID19 cases and deaths continues to go up at a Hayward nursing home. On Thursday afternoon, the Alameda County Public Health Department announced the number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases at the Gateway Care and Rehabilitation Center is now 65, with seven deaths. The frightening new numbers come as family members of patients there scramble for information.

The cases include 40 patients and 25 staff members of Gateway, though the county wouldn't specify whether those who died were patients or staff.

RELATED: Coronavirus Outbreak: 6 dead, 53 infected with COVID-19 at Hayward assisted living facility

"They kept telling us that she's in the safest place she can be and doesn't seem like that's ringing true," said Barbara Rios, after she spent 10 minutes knocking on the front door of the Gateway Center on Patrick Avenue, with no answer.

Rios' elderly mother is a resident at Hayward's Gateway Care and Rehabilitation Center.

Gateway staff won't answer Rios' calls or knocks at the door, but she has talked with her mother on the phone.

RELATED: Coronavirus questions: I-Team digs into records of Orinda nursing home, scene of COVID-19 outbreak

"I didn't know people had been dying here," said Rios through her yellow medical mask. "The last I heard there was one patient who tested positive and that's the last I heard," she said.

"I actually just came here because they needed help," said nursing assistant Tyrica Cisco, who has worked at Gateway for just three days, caring for the patients still inside, while keeping herself safe.

"We're drinking hot water every 30 minutes, constantly taking vitamins, eating oranges," said Cisco, who told she is working overtime and never considered not showing up for work. "I signed up for this," she said.

RELATED: 27 test positive for coronavirus at Orinda skilled nursing facility, county health officials say

Jaime Patino says his father got a call from the facility Thursday morning about his grandmother.

"During the call they did say they were staffing up. So yesterday (Wednesday) apparently they were understaffed, but today they have staffed up so that is a good sign that they are getting the help they need inside the building," Patino said.

He and others are still reeling about learning of the deaths and dozens of other positive COVID-19 cases from the news.

"Still a bit upset about yesterday (Wednesday) finding out from an email news alert instead of getting the call from them, but at least it is a start. It is not much of a condolence for the six people who lost their lives," he said.

According to state records, the facility had 25 federal violations last year, including a report file din August that showed a patient missed two doses of antibiotic treatment because the facility did not have a registered nurse on the schedule.

"We know that low staffing is related to infections and so the facilities that have the lowest staffing are the most vulnerable," explained University of California San Francisco Nursing Professor Charlene Harrington, who said short-staffed facilities can't keep up with proper cleaning and disinfecting protocols.

Gary and Debra Tomei reached out to ABC7 news after hearing about the deaths. Gary's mother, Evelyn, lives at the Gateway Center.

"I wish they had had better contact with us. Let us know there were deaths. We didn't know that until you reported it on the news," Gary said. "Yeah we were shocked. We didn't know until we seen it last night," Debra added.

Evelyn has tested positive for novel coronavirus. Gary and Debra say she is very worried. They are, too.

"We can't console her enough on the phone. You just want to hold her. You want to make them feel ok and safe. And that's the hard thing. You can't do that," Debra said.

According to records from the State of California, Gateway has capacity for 99 beds, but no one from the facility could tell ABC7News how many patients were actually inside the facility at the time of the outbreak.

If you have a question or comment about the coronavirus crisis, submit yours via the form below or here.

Get the latest news, information and videos about the novel coronavirus pandemic here

Copyright © 2022 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.