As ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as resulted in thousands of nursing home deaths nationwide, several states have introduced new regulations, taking steps intended to protect residents in long-term care facilities.
Many nursing homes are struggling to protect the population older and at-risk individuals living in long-term care facilities, which have become a breeding ground for the virus. Since many residents have serious underlying health conditions, which complicate coronavirus illnesses, recent reports suggest more than 12,000 coronavirus deaths have been linked to nursing homes nationwide.
Both New York and Florida have announced new measures requiring more stringent testing, which is intended to detect cases as soon as they appear, in order to prevent the virus from sweeping through whole facilities.
In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo recently ordered all nursing homes to test staff twice a week for coronavirus. Failure to do so will result in the loss of the facility’s operating license. Regulations in the state also prevents hospitals from discharging COVID-19 patients to a nursing facility until the patient has tested negative for the infection.
If a nursing home is deemed unable to provide proper treatment and support for a recovering resident, the patient would be transferred to the care of the state, which now has available hospital bed capacity for these situations as cases have leveled off.
Similarly, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration issued emergency rules for nursing homes and assisted living facilities regarding COVID-19 which require every nursing home and assisted living facility in the state to allow entry for members of the Florida Department of Health for infection prevention control, which may include coronavirus testing of on-duty and off-duty staff.
Nearly 5,400 residents of nursing homes and adult care facilities have died from COVID-19 infections since March 1 in New York alone. Nursing home residents make up roughly 20% of all COVID-19 deaths in New York.
So far, 703 residents and staff at nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Florida have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
In other areas, COVID-19 has become rampant in long-term care facilities. In Indiana, roughly 28% of deaths are among nursing home residents. In California 38% and in Minnesota 80% of deaths are among long-term care residents.
Officials warn this is a consequence of nursing home neglect in long-term care facilities. Nursing homes face chronic under-staffing and a lack of preparation among staff for pandemic care.
COVID-19 has infected more than 1.3 million Americans leading to nearly 80,000 deaths. Globally the coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 4 million people and has led to nearly 300,000 deaths. There is no known cure or vaccine.