COVID cases rise in nursing homes
COVID-19 cases are on the rise again in nursing homes across the United States due to the omicron variant of the coronavirus, and deaths are also on the rise, forcing precautionary measures such as restrictions on family visitation to be tightened. family members and the use of vaccines for nursing home residents and employees.
Nursing homes were the deadly epicenter of the pandemic before the vaccine allowed many to reopen to visitors last year. But the omicron variant, which is more contagious, has given them a setback.
Nursing homes reported nearly a record 32,000 cases of COVID-19 among residents in the week ending Jan. 9, a nearly seven-fold increase from the previous month, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. United States (CDC).
In addition, 645 COVID-19-related deaths were recorded among residents during the same week, an increase of 47% from the previous period.
Despite the growing numbers, the situation is not as dire as it was in December 2020, when nursing home deaths per week topped 6,200. Experts credit the high vaccination rates in nursing homes: 87% are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
Vaccines and their boosters provide strong protection against serious illness, hospitalization, and death, but the sick and elderly are especially vulnerable to the virus.
Among other measures, those responsible for nursing homes are allowing visitors only in common areas instead of allowing them to enter residents’ rooms and reinstating social distancing.
Some states, such as New York, have implemented their own measures, such as requiring visitors to test negative for coronavirus and providing everyone with sanitary masks.
Nursing homes are also working to increase vaccination numbers, especially for boosters. 63% of nursing home residents nationally have received an additional dose. By comparison, 83% of nursing home employees are fully vaccinated, but only 29% have a booster shot.
About 57,200 nursing home workers — by far the highest number on record during the pandemic — had the virus in the week ending Jan. 9, 10 times what was reported the previous month, according to the CDC.