A church member prays during a Good Friday service at St. Ambrose Cathedral, Friday, April 10, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa. COVID-19 causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Fourteen residents at a Cedar Rapids nursing home that has been at the center of the coronavirus pandemic in Iowa have died, the home's owner confirmed Saturday.

Sixty residents at Heritage Specialty Care and 30 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Care Initiatives, a nonprofit that owns the home. That represents roughly half the residents and a quarter of the staff at the facility.

Of the 60 infected residents, 14 have recovered and another 14 have died as of Friday, Care Initiatives said in a statement.

“The hearts, thoughts and prayers of our Heritage staff and our organization go out to the families of these special loved ones,” the statement said.

Saturday's transparency detailing the severity of the outbreak at Heritage Specialty Care came hours after The Associated Press first reported that 14 residents there had died.

The death toll was confirmed on Saturday by Alisha Weber, the lead investigator for the Linn County Medical Examiner's office. Previously, public health officials had refused to release information about how many had died at the home.

The outbreak has been the worst in Iowa and helped give Linn County the highest number of known infections and deaths out of Iowa's 99 counties.

Officials have said that the outbreak, and others at nursing homes in Tama and Washington counties, have accounted for around 10 percent of Iowa's confirmed COVID-19 cases and 40 percent or more of the state's deaths.

Overall cases in Iowa rose to 1,510 on Saturday, an increase of 122 that was in line with the two previous days. The number of deaths rose by three, to 34.

Care Initiatives said two members of its hospice team have been working full-time at Heritage Specialty Care in recent weeks to give “comfort and support for those residents and families facing end-of-life.” They have connected residents with their relatives through Facetime and phone calls for closure and support, the owner said.

The home's owner said that 7 of the staff members who have tested positive have returned to work.

“We are grateful for the compassion our employees show and the dedication they demonstrate each day for our residents,” the statement said.

Weber said the Linn County medical examiner's office has handled 16 deaths in which the individual tested positive for COVID-19. All but two have come from the Heritage facility.

Iowa Department of Public Health statistics put Linn County's COVID-19 death toll at 12 as of Saturday and its total cases at 235.

Weber said one death handled by her office was a resident of another county and therefore wasn't included in Linn County's total. Others may be too new to show up in the state count, she said.

Statistics released Saturday show that 11,000-population Louisa County is also experiencing a surge in cases, climbing by 14 to 70. The rural county is home to the Tyson Foods plant in Columbus Junction, which temporarily shut down last week after more than two dozen workers tested positive. Its neighbor, Muscatine County, has also seen a spike in recent days.


Check out more of the AP’s coronavirus coverage at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak