Data Indicate More Than 2,600 Fatalities In US Linked To Coronavirus In Nursing Homes, Long-Term Care Facilities.
The AP (4/12, Condon, Herschaft) reports that more than “2,600 deaths nationwide have been linked to coronavirus outbreaks in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, an alarming rise in just the past two weeks, according to the latest count by The Associated Press.” Since “the federal government has not been releasing a count of its own, the AP has kept its own running tally based on media reports and state health departments.” The most recent “count of at least 2,646 deaths is up from about 450 deaths just 10 days ago.” The piece adds that this past week, CMS “issued recommendations urging nursing homes to use separate staffing teams for residents, and to designate separate facilities within nursing [homes] to keep COVID-19 positive residents away from those who have tested negative.”
CMS Will Reportedly Take Action To Get Better Coronavirus Disclosures From Nursing Homes.
In an exclusive, the Wall Street Journal (4/12, Mathews, Kamp, Subscription Publication) reports that according to people with knowledge of the matter, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) services will soon pressure nursing homes to inform residents, families, and staff more quickly when facilities confirm coronavirus cases. The sources said CMS could announce the move as early as this week. It is not yet clear if CMS will order facilities to disclose such cases, or just strongly recommend it.
California Nursing Homes Struggle To Deal With Shortages Amid Coronavirus Pandemic.
The Los Angeles Times (4/12, Hamilton, Gerber, Chabria) reports, “In thousands of facilities that house California’s elderly and infirm,” an “escalating scarcity driven by the spread of the coronavirus is forcing nurses and medical assistants on the front lines to employ creativity and pluck to combat a deadly pandemic.” Nursing homes and assisted living centers “are fast becoming a locus of outbreaks, driving up mortality rates and straining public health resources.” Institutions and public health officials “said shortages abound: of protective gear, testing kits and, increasingly, of staff, who are sick or afraid to show up to work. With family visits halted, workers – many of whom shuttle between multiple facilities – are a potential source of infection in nursing homes but are essential to feeding, bathing and caring for the state’s vast aging population.”
Cases Of Novel Coronavirus Sweep Through Michigan Nursing Homes.
The Detroit Free Press (4/12, Kaufman, Hall, Anderson, Tanner) reports “coronavirus cases have swept through nursing homes across Michigan, putting the state’s most vulnerable at risk at a time when elderly residents are isolated from family under rules intended to keep them safe.” So far, “there have been hundreds of confirmed coronavirus cases among residents and staff and dozens of deaths linked to nursing homes in Michigan, the Free Press has found, even as facilities take steps to stem the spread and health officials work to monitor outbreaks.” Still, state “health officials have said they hadn’t been actively tracking data on nursing home cases statewide.”
Coronavirus Has Killed At Least 24 Long-Term Care Facility Residents In Oregon.
The AP (4/12, Selsky) reports “the coronavirus has had a devastating impact on nine long-term care facilities in Oregon, killing at least 24 people among 171 who have tested positive.” The deaths “represent almost half the total number of people in Oregon known to have died of COVID-19, according to data from state officials released late Saturday.” In one long-term care “facility alone, Healthcare at Foster Creek in Portland, nine of 35 people who became infected died, according to an announcement from the state coronavirus Joint Information Center.”
Virginia Gov. Northam Creates Nursing Home Task Force To Tackle Coronavirus.
The Washington Times (4/12, Kaplan) reports, “Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam appointed Friday a top public health official to focus on combating outbreaks of the coronavirus in long term care facilities.” The Virginia governor “tapped Dr. Laurie Forlano, a deputy commissioner for public health in the Virginia Department of Health who has been leading the coronavirus mitigation strategy, to lead a task force made of other state agencies to accomplish three tasks: ensure nursing homes have the financial resources they need to combat the virus; strengthen staffing and infection control measures at long term care facilities; and keep these facilities and the public informed about where coronavirus cases are occurring.”
Elder Care Facilities In DC Area Scrambling For Protective Gear, Workers As Number Of COVID-19 Cases Increases.
The Washington Post (4/11, Olivo, Vozzella, Tan) reported that COVID-19 “is taking root inside the Washington region’s nursing homes and assisted-living communities for the elderly, with at least 142 of those sites now affected and two of the nation’s largest outbreaks happening in Virginia and Maryland.” The article said, “Amid a national scramble for respirator masks and other protective gear, caregivers, worried families and industry leaders all warn that the country’s premier network of care for a growing segment of society may soon be overwhelmed.” As the number of COVID-19 cases increases, “some facilities are worried they soon won’t have enough workers to help their residents – either because of coronavirus infections in those ranks or because they are choosing to avoid the risk of coming in.”
New York Times (April 11)
The facilities knew that frail and aging residents were especially vulnerable to the outbreak, but they were unable to stop it.
Stateline (April 10)
As states have stepped in, they’ve adopted different strategies on releasing the names of affected facilities, restricting visitors and forcing facilities to take infected patients. Advocates worry that some of these new policies are harming the very patients they are intended to protect.
Details Scarce About Coronavirus Infections In Louisiana Nursing Homes.
The AP (4/10) reports nursing homes in Louisiana “have become a hot spot in the coronavirus outbreak,” but information “that could help families understand the scale of Louisiana’s problem” isn’t being released. The piece describes how nursing homes are especially susceptible to the disease, and reports that despite large numbers of nursing facilities in the state with infections and deaths, the administration of Gov. John Bel Edwards “started refusing to list names of individual facilities where confirmed coronavirus infections exist or the number of cases by facility.” State Office of Public Health director Dr. Alex Billioux suggested that the “policy was developed in consultation with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” However, the CDC has said it does not issue such guidance.
DOJ Launches Investigation Into Massachusetts Nursing Home Where 32 Veterans Died Of COVID-19.
USA Today (4/10, Phillips, Garrison) reported that the Department of Justice “has opened an investigation into a Massachusetts nursing home where 32 veterans have died of coronavirus, officials announced Friday.” DOJ’s “Civil Rights Division will investigate whether Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, a state-run facility about 90 miles west of Boston, failed to provide adequate medical care to its residents.” The article said Holyoke “is already under investigation by state officials. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, has tapped a former federal prosecutor to investigate on behalf of the commonwealth.”