COVID- 19 Infections and deaths in nursing homes in the United States are increasing again as a result of the omicron wave, prompting new restrictions on family visits and a renewed push to get more residents and staff members vaccinated and boosted.
Nursing homes were the pandemic’s lethal epicenter early on, before the vaccine allowed for the reopening of many of them to visitors last year. However, they have suffered a setback due to the highly contagious variant.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nursing homes reported a near-record 32,000 COVID-19 cases among residents in the week ending Jan. 9, nearly sevenfold the number reported a month earlier.
During the same week, 645 residents died as a result of COVID-19, a 47 percent increase over the previous period. And there are fears that the death toll could rise significantly higher before omicron is eliminated.
Despite the increasing numbers, the situation is not as dire as it was in December 2020, when the number of nursing home deaths per week peaked at approximately 6,200. Experts credit nursing home residents’ high vaccination rates: approximately 87 percent are fully vaccinated, according to CDC data.
Officials at nursing homes say they are responding to the outbreak by restricting visitors to common areas rather than allowing them into residents’ rooms and reinstituting social segregation.
Certain states, such as New York, have enacted their own measures, such as requiring visitors to provide proof of a negative test and providing everyone with surgical masks.
Nursing homes are also attempting to increase vaccination rates, particularly for booster shots. Across the country, 63% of nursing home residents have received an additional dose.
(Source: The Associated Press)