Berkeley Pines Skilled Nursing Center in South Berkeley, May 29, 2020. Photo: Pete Rosos

More than half of the residents at Berkeley Pines Skilled Nursing Center in South Berkeley have tested positive for COVID-19 since early July and one of them has died, Berkeleyside has learned.

Eighteen residents in the 33-bed facility have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to state data. Berkeley Pines Administrator Al Macasieb said Monday afternoon that he is working closely with public health staff from the city and state to control the infection.

According to the California Department of Public Health, residents and staff at Berkeley Pines have both contracted the coronavirus. As of Sunday, when the state database was last updated, 15 residents were still infected with COVID-19.

Macasieb said Berkeley Pines currently has 30 residents. The nursing home is located at 2223 Ashby Ave., at Deakin Street.

According to state data, fewer than 11 Berkeley Pines staff members contracted the virus. (The state does not report the exact figure when it is less than 11.) No staff members are currently listed as positive. Berkeley Pines has 46 health care workers, according to the state.

Macasieb told Berkeleyside on Monday that one resident of Berkeley Pines had died from COVID-19 and that the numbers reported by the state are accurate.

The death at Berkeley Pines is the second COVID-19 fatality reported to date at a skilled nursing facility in Berkeley. A resident who stayed briefly at the Elmwood Care Center also died after two infections were reported there.

Neither of those cases has counted toward the city of Berkeley’s numbers which, thus far, include the death of one resident, a person in their 40s with an underlying health condition. Infection and fatality numbers are assigned to the jurisdictions where people permanently reside.

Baseline testing took place at Berkeley Pines in late May and several times in June, according to the state.

Berkeley has five skilled nursing facilities and one long-term memory care facility: Ashby Care Center, Berkeley Pines Skilled Nursing Center, Chaparral House, Elmwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Kyakameena Care Center and Silverado Berkeley Memory Care Community. Together, the six sites have 294 beds and 382 staff members, according to the state.

As of Sunday, Berkeley Pines was the only one of the six facilities with active coronavirus cases.

On Saturday morning during a town hall event, Berkeley’s health officer, Dr. Lisa Hernandez, said the city was “dealing with an outbreak” involving residents and staff at one of its six facilities.

She did not identify the facility by name, but said the city was working closely with staffers to make sure they had all the guidance, support, and access to testing and protective gear they needed “to ensure that we control the disease as much as possible.”

Across California, more than 15,000 residents and 10,000 health care workers in the state’s 1,223 skilled nursing facilities have tested positive for COVID-19, according to state records. About 2,800 residents and 100 health care workers in those facilities have died.

Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist...