Washington Post (October 13)
When the coronavirus pandemic left elderly residents in long-term care facilities largely cut off from their families and the outside world in early March, Hita Gupta got to work. Channeling the resources and volunteers of a nonprofit she founded in 2018, Gupta, 15, of Pennsylvania, started sending letters, cards and care packages to senior homes nationwide, even reaching some facilities in the United Kingdom and Canada.
Minnesota Rolls Back COVID-19 Policy Stopping Families From Seeing Loved Ones At Nursing Homes.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune (10/12, Serres) reports that “despite an alarming surge in coronavirus cases,” Minnesota “Gov. Tim Walz’s (DFL) administration is rolling back a heart-wrenching policy that prevented families from visiting their loved ones in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities during the pandemic.” The state’s health department “issued new guidelines Monday that allow indoor visits at most senior homes that have not had new COVID-19 infections in the preceding two weeks and the infection rate in the surrounding county is no more than 10%.” However, “the state recommends that long-term care facilities limit how many visitors a resident can have at one time, as well as the duration of indoor visits.”
Nevada Reverses Course On Use Of Rapid COVID-19 Tests In Nursing Homes.
The Wall Street Journal (10/11, Abbott, Mathews, Subscription Publication) reported that Nevada has reversed its decision to stop using rapid COVID-19 tests in nursing homes after HHS’ Adm. Brett Giroir, who oversees testing in the US, warned the state that its action violated federal law.
Nevada Rescinds State Order Halting Rapid Antigen Testing In Nursing Homes.
The New York Times (10/10, Wu) reported, “Under pressure from the federal government, Nevada health officials on Friday rescinded a statewide order directing nursing homes to halt the use of two government-issued rapid coronavirus tests that the state had deemed to be inaccurate.” Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary of Health and Human Services, called the ban “‘unwise, uninformed and unlawful’ and a violation of the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act.” When “submitting applications to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency clearance, BD and Quidel reported no false positives from their products, and advertised these accuracy rates on their packaging.”
The AP (10/9, Metz) reported that on Friday, Admiral Brett Giroir “told reporters that federal law prohibits states from imposing a ban like the one that Nevada health officials ordered Oct. 2.”
NBC News (10/9) reported, “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that positive antigen tests are confirmed with a PCR test.”
CNBC (10/9) reported Giroir “said Friday that false positives are a ‘reality’ of the testing ecosystem and are to be expected.” The FDA stated “it had received 302 ‘adverse event’ reports as of Sept. 30, including numerous accounts of false negative, according to Reuters.”
The Las Vegas Review-Journal (10/9) reported Giroir “said the decision by Nevada officials ‘can only be interpreted as reflecting a fundamental lack of basic knowledge about testing and interpreting results.’”
Nursing Home Industry Calls For Additional Relief Funds As Most Of CARES Act Funding Dries Up.
Fox News (10/9, McKay) reported that as talks over a new coronavirus relief package continue, “the many millions left languishing in nursing homes and elderly care facilities – along with their loved ones forced to communicate with them from afar – are urging swift action.” According to the American Health Care Association, nearly “all the initial $175 billion... HHS...funds from the CARES Act...has been spent.” Consequently, the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living has “requested an additional $100 billion from the HHS Provider Relief Fund, which is accessible for all health care providers impacted by the novel pathogen, and asked ‘that a sizeable portion of the fund be dedicated to helping nursing homes and assisted living communities to acquire resources associated with protecting vulnerable residents and staff from the virus, including constant testing, personal protective equipment (PPE) and staff support.’”
Minnesota Officials Worried COVID-19 Will Infiltrate Long-Term Care Facilities.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune (10/9, Olson) reported, “Rising COVID-19 case counts, especially in rural hot spots, have Minnesota health officials concerned that the infectious disease will infiltrate back into long-term care facilities where it can be particularly severe.” The state’s health department “on Friday reported 14 COVID-19 deaths, 12 of which involved residents of long-term care.” The list of long-term care “facilities with at least one confirmed infection in a resident or worker in the past 28 days has grown from 239 on Sept. 1 to 341 now.”
Federal Officials Warn Nevada After It Banned Rapid COVID-19 Tests In Nursing Homes Over Accuracy Concerns.
Bloomberg (10/9, Tozzi, LaVito, Court) reported that “a federal effort to arm nursing homes with rapid coronavirus tests is stumbling on concern the tests return false positives, putting at least one state at odds with federal officials over the value of the tests.” Nevada recently “ordered nursing homes to stop using the point-of-care tests after they found more than 20 instances where positive findings were overturned by more precise assays.” Although “other states are now questioning their accuracy as well,” federal health “officials, meanwhile, said states don’t have the authority to bar the tests, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said it would take ‘appropriate action’ if Nevada didn’t cease the ban.” Brett Giroir explained to state officials that Nevada’s order “can only be based on a lack of knowledge or bias, and will endanger the lives of our most vulnerable.”
USA Today (10/9, Alltucker) also reports.
Topeka Capital Journal (October 10)
After months of isolation, long-term care facilities struggle to balance safety of residents with visitation rights as some restrictions are lifted
Visitation at nursing homes in Kansas, and across the country, has been restricted during the ongoing pandemic, as facilities attempt to limit the spread of a virus that has been shown to result in more serious health conditions for those in high-risk categories, including the elderly. Shawnee County’s health officer announced late last month that visitations may resume under certain conditions, but allowing visitations and restricting them both come with a cost. In early September, the Office of the Kansas Long-term Care Ombudsman surveyed family members of residents living in long-term care facilities. The survey found that residents felt like they were in prison, expressed no interest in living and actually had their conditions worsen when visitations weren’t allowed.
The Meridian Star (October 9)
Twice as many residents caught COVID-19 at Mississippi's for-profit nursing homes, and nearly three times more died there, an analysis of health data by the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting shows. The average number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in these for-profit homes? Four in 10 residents. One possible factor: 80% of Mississippi’s nursing homes had already been cited for infection-control problems before the pandemic hit.
Star Tribune (October 9)
Broadening spread of SARS-CoV-2 virus has led to more infections and deaths in long-term care facilities.
St. Louis Public Radio (October 9)
Nursing homes across the U.S. have long struggled with staff shortages, but families and workers in St. Louis say the crisis has worsened in recent months, as the pandemic has pushed some facilities to a breaking point. Faced with the possibility of contracting the coronavirus themselves, nursing home staff — often women of color earning a low hourly wage — have had to weigh whether the paycheck is worth the risk.
FOX13 Salt Lake City (October 8)
Of the 500 grim milestone the state reached on Thursday 212 of them were people who were residing in longterm care facilities at the time of their death.
Los Angeles Times (October 8)
After a steady slide in the statewide number of new coronavirus infections at skilled nursing homes, facilities in Santa Cruz and Shasta Counties are grappling with severe outbreaks, with several dozen people at both places testing positive and residents dying of COVID-19.
NHPR (October 8)
The state's long-term care ombudsman Susan Buxton is preparing to re-enter long-term care facilities as state and federal authorities continue the process of slowly re-opening nursing homes and assisted living facilities, allowing more visitors in hopes of alleviating social isolation.