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This award-winning blog supplements the articles in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.

COVID-19 Decimating Nursing Homes

By Gary Evans, Medical Writer

The combination of a highly infectious virus and a frail resident population in a closed environment — where infection control historically has been difficult — has resulted in devastating outbreaks of COVID-19 in U.S. nursing homes.

Infection preventionists who oversee or consult with nursing homes know that introduction of the pandemic coronavirus into these facilities may be the first wave of a perfect storm.

As of April 23, 2020, a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that in the 23 states that publicly report mortality data, more than 10,000 reported nursing home residents and staff have died of COVID-19.

“Our data also finds that there have been over 50,000 reported cases, accounting for 11% of coronavirus cases in 29 states,” the report states. “In six states reporting data, deaths in long-term care facilities account for over 50% of all COVID-19 deaths (Delaware, Massachusetts, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Utah).”

Although incomplete reporting undermines full accuracy, it is clear that nursing homes are bearing the brunt of the pandemic. There are more than 1 million residents in some 15,000 nursing homes nationally, Terry Fulmer, PhD, RN, FAAN, president of the John A. Hartford Foundation, said at a recent webinar.

“Our healthcare system has failed our nursing homes and all those who live and work there,” Fulmer said. “It is heart-wrenching to see the devastating toll this is having on our residents and staff in long-term care facilities. We have to act now to prevent further death and suffering.”

For more on this story, see the June 2020 issue of Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.