TORONTO -- The situation at a Pickering, Ont. long-term care and retirement home is becoming more troubled as 40 people die and 66 staff members test positive for the novel coronavirus. 

Orchard Villa retirement and long-term care sent a letter to families on Thursday, detailing the rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths at the 233-bed facility, saying that 131 residents have tested positive for the disease, more than half of its residents.

Southbridge Care Homes admitted to CTV News Toronto earlier this week that its Orchard Villa home has been struggling with a severe staff shortage and has reached out to various levels of government for help.

The home announced Thursday in the letter that the provincial government is sending additional support to Orchard Villa to help manage operations through the pandemic. Durham Region announced just a day before that a local hospital will be moving resources to the home as well.

Families of residents have told CTV News Toronto that their loved ones are not receiving the care needed due to the shortage of staff and that they have received very few updates about the whole ordeal, and have been relying on media reports to understand the scope of the issue.

One woman, Cathy Parkes, whose father died at the home, told CTV News Toronto that she was told by the administration at the home that her father had been doing well, despite the fact that he could no longer converse with her over the phone.

"If it wasn’t for the personal support workers and the nurses on staff, I would have no true information about my father. Not only were they the ones putting their lives on the line, but they were the only ones telling me how he really was doing … when I was talking to administration it was always holding back information,” she told CTV News on Wednesday.

“I was putting my trust in people who are taking care of my dad … I couldn’t get in and I couldn’t see him so I had to take their word for it and I regret it.”

The letter, signed by April Beckett, the acting executive director of the home on Thursday, acknowledged some of the grave concerns families have raised.

“We understand you have deep concerns … We are committed to keeping our residents and families informed and we recognize there is a clear desire for more regular communication,” the letter says.

“We will be sending letters like this one twice per week to make sure you are up-to-date.”

Beckett wrote that the provincial help is expected to arrive in a matter of day.

Almost a week ago, Orchard Villa sent a letter to the families of residents detailing what happens if a loved one dies at the home and urging them to choose a funeral home to “minimize distress.”

The letter describes the grim details of what families must go through if a loved one dies at the long-term care home.

“A dedicated staff person will be responsible for moving your loved one to a designated area to wait for the funeral home personnel to arrive,” the letter said.

“That person will facilitate transfer to the care of the funeral home staff. This must be accomplished within three hours after the death of the individual.

“Unfortunately, it will not be possible for family to accompany or participate in this in any way.”