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What makes nursing homes especially vulnerable to COVID-19?

COVID-19 deaths briefly dropped in June before making a swift comeback, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Journal cites federal data showing a massive increase in new cases, primarily fueled by states like Texas and Florida.

Nursing Home Coronavirus

Nursing home residents are among the most vulnerable members of society when it comes to COVID-19 infections. During the week of July 26, 2020, there were 1,046 COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes across the United States. This marked a 24 percent increase from the beginning of July, when the number of cases in nursing homes was at its lowest point.

There have also been more than 65,000 COVID-19 deaths in long-term care facilities across the U.S. since the beginning of the pandemic. Nursing homes, assisted living communities, and other long-term care facilities account for roughly 40 percent of all nationwide COVID-19 deaths. That’s based on roughly 161,000 deaths compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Ever since the first COVID-19 outbreak in a Kirkland, Washington nursing home, federal data has shown how vulnerable nursing homes are to this pandemic.

COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes are often linked to asymptomatic staff members who bring the virus into facilities. It only takes the spread to one resident or other staff member to lead to a serious outbreak.

This issue has raised concerns regarding the need for testing and personal protective equipment.

“The PPE and the testing have not been implemented in the way that we know would minimize the number of nursing-home deaths in these hot spots,” said Tamara Konetzka, a professor of health-services research at the University of Chicago.

How are federal officials handling the problem?

According to Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Trump administration has been keeping a close eye on nursing home death statistics and providing critical resources, such as testing platforms, personal protective equipment, and teams of experts to help manage the outbreaks.

The CMS also plans on mandatory testing for nursing home staff in states with the highest number of cases. Nursing homes have run into some challenges with testing, however. For example, it can take up to a week for COVID-19 test results to come back. During this time period, an asymptomatic staff member could continue to attend work and potentially infect others in a facility.

A limited number of facilities have received resources for rapid testing, but guidance on how to use rapid tests must be given by federal authorities.

What should I do if a loved one was harmed during a COVID-19 outbreak?

We’d like to think that our loved ones are safe and being properly cared for in nursing homes. Sometimes, the lack of oversight can lead to serious outbreaks that cause serious illnesses and deaths. If your loved one suffered a serious COVID-19 infection as a result of poor nursing home facility management, you may be able to take legal action against the facility and pursue damages.

The Law Office of George S. Johnson, LLC has been serving clients in the Atlanta, Georgia area for more than 20 years. Our legal team can launch a thorough investigation into the facility where your loved one was harmed and fight to help you get compensated for your losses – both financial and non-economic losses.

To schedule your free case evaluation, contact us online.

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