After reporting on the Kirkland, Washington, nursing home being accused of having needlessly exposed patients and staff to COVID-19 by federal officials, we learned that thousands of other nursing home patients across the country have been exposed to the same risks.
According to a report by the Associated Press, more than 3,600 coronavirus-related deaths across the country can be traced back to outbreaks that started in nursing homes and similar facilities. As a matter of fact, AP claimed, the latest count shows 3,621 deaths tied to nursing home outbreaks alone.
Because federal agencies have not released an official death count related to long-term care facilities, AP relied on data shared by media reports as well as numbers released by state health departments. Once more data is available, AP added, experts believe that the death toll could be much higher.
Nursing Home Abuse: Are Facilities Ignoring COVID-19 Risks?
Outside of Washington, states that have seen a high number of COVID-19-related deaths in nursing homes include New York, Massachusetts, Indiana, and Virginia. New York alone accounts for 1,880 nursing home deaths.
According to experts, patients under the care of these facilities might be under increased risk due to the staffing shortages caused by the coronavirus outbreak itself as well as a shortage of protective supplies such as masks.
Furthermore, lack of readily available testing sources makes it difficult for long-term care facilities to keep track of their COVID-19 cases.
During an interview with news outlets, Dr. Deborah Birx, the head of the White House coronavirus task force, said that as coronavirus tests become more widely available, the federal government will make nursing homes its top priority.
“We need to really ensure that nursing homes have sentinel surveillance,” she told reporters. “And what do I mean by that? That we’re actively testing in nursing homes, both the residents and the workers, at all times.”
To read more on the growing number of deaths being tied to the novel coronavirus, follow this link.