WASHINGTON, D.C. – The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), representing more than 14,000 nursing homes and assisted living communities across the country that provide care to approximately five million people each year, released an updated report today showing the major spike of new COVID cases in nursing homes has now surpassed the peak level back on May 31, according to updated data released from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
The report shows the increase of COVID cases in U.S. nursing homes is a direct result of the major spikes in the general population of the Sun Belt region with 78 percent of new cases in U.S. nursing homes coming from those states by the end of July.
According to the report, COVID-related deaths in nursing homes had declined significantly, but have started to increase again with 69 percent of COVID-related deaths in U.S. nursing homes coming from the Sun Belt.
In an article in The Washington Post last week, Dr. David Grabowski, professor of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School stated, “The strongest predictor of whether or not we’ll see cases in [a particular setting] is community spread. We saw that in the Northeast and now, unfortunately, we’re seeing it in the Sun Belt states.”
“With the recent major spikes of COVID cases in many states across the country, we were very concerned this trend would lead to an increase in cases in nursing homes and unfortunately it has,” stated Mark Parkinson, President and CEO of the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living. “This is especially troubling since many nursing homes and other long term care facilities are still unable to acquire the personal protective equipment and testing they need to fully combat this virus.”
While PPE shortages continue to be a major concern for long term care facilities, especially the lack of available N95 masks, the lack of reliable and rapid result testing has been the top concern among nursing home providers.
In the survey AHCA/NCAL conducted back in June, 87 percent of nursing homes said tests for residents and staff was taking two days or longer to obtain results. One out of four nursing homes said it was taking five days or longer.
“What we need – now more than ever – is for our government leaders and lab companies from the private sector to work together to find a solution to prioritize and expedite the processing of tests for nursing home residents and caregivers,” stated Parkinson.
In a recent CNN interview, Parkinson said governors and state public health agencies need to focus on reducing the level of COVID in the general population and ensuring nursing homes obtain the PPE supplies and reliable testing they need.
“If everybody would wear a mask and encourage their friends and family to wear a mask and…
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