Updated: Apr 20, 2020
More than six weeks after the first coronavirus deaths in a nursing home were reported, outbreaks have unfolded in nursing homes across the country. Now, nearly a fifth of U.S. virus deaths are linked to nursing facilities.
Original article written by Farah Stockman, Matt Richtel, Danielle Ivory, & Mitch Smith at NY Times
Image taken by Chris Carlson from Associated Press
Published April 17, 2020
Updated April 18, 2020
The first U.S. coronavirus deaths in a nursing home were reported late February in suburban Seattle, Washington. Now, more than six weeks later, large and lethal outbreaks have ravaged nursing homes across the country. A nationwide tally by The New York Times has determined the number of coronavirus deaths connected to nursing homes in the U.S. to be at least 7,000 – far higher than what was previously known. This means that nearly a fifth of US coronavirus deaths (20%) are linked to nursing homes and other long-term nursing facilities. Despite the increasingly desperate efforts to stop the spread, the virus has made its way into at least 4,100 American nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Betsy McCaughey, a former lieutenant governor of New York who founded the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths, described nursing homes as “death pits.” And sadly, the number of cases at these nursing homes is most likely even higher because many facilities, counties, and states have not provided detailed information. The virus is known to be more deadly to aging, immunocompromised people found in small, confined settings like nursing homes, where workers frequently move from one room to the next, making them particularly vulnerable to spreading infection. Despite this, virus tests and protective gear have been scarce and are in short supply even now inside many of these nursing facilities, which are among the most overlooked players in the healthcare system. All of these factors have allowed the virus to thrive. One nursing assistant at a Detroit nursing facility said she had to use the same N95 mask for three weeks, and with no gowns available in her facility, she and her co-workers had to suit up in the same gowns that patients sleep in. Nursing home industry officials acknowledged this week that many of their facilities were in crisis, saying that they lacked the protective equipment and testing that hospitals have received. “We have got to have masks, and we don’t have masks,” stated Mark Parkinson, the president and chief executive of the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living, an organization that represents skilled nursing facilities and assisted living homes that house more than a million people. He said that federal health authorities have designated nursing homes and long-term care facilities at a lower priority level than hospitals, which poses a significant problem in slowing the spread of the virus and puts the lives of many healthcare workers and patients in nursing homes at risk. Read more at https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/17/us/coronavirus-nursing-homes.html