Throughout the United States, nursing homes have become one of the epicenters for the spread of coronavirus, which some suggest is a consequence of chronic under-staffing and a lack of preparation for the pandemic.
As of April 12, more than 3,600 coronavirus-related deaths have occurred at nursing homes nationwide, according to the Associated Press. Other news reports have highlighted large clusters of nursing home COVID-19 illnesses nationwide.
The first known U.S. COVID-19 cases were, in fact, detected at the Life Care Center nursing home in Washington state. The facility has seen 129 coronavirus cases and at least 37 related deaths.
Last Friday, Deborah de los Angeles, the daughter of one of the victims, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the facility after her mother, Twilla June Morin, died of COVID-19 on March 4. However, de los Angeles indicates that the report of her mother’s death was the first she was even notified that there was a problem at the facility, despite several other deaths that had already occurred there.
Federal investigators have identified multiple problems with nursing home neglect at Life Care, indicating that the facility placed residents in “imminent danger.”
Similar accusations are being leveled against nursing homes nationwide, which many say were understaffed and ill-prepared for the outbreak. In many cases, families complain that they weren’t told there was an outbreak, or were not told that some facilities were specifically taking in coronavirus patients, which sometimes spread to other residents in the facilities.
The Associated Press noted the federal government has not been specifically tracking nursing home coronavirus deaths, but its own tally indicates there are at least 3,621 known COVID-19-related fatalities in U.S. nursing homes. That rose from 450 deaths since the beginning of the month.
About 1,880 of those deaths occurred in New York state, which has more coronavirus infections than anywhere else in the world, including every country except the U.S. However, the wire service also warns that the number of nursing home deaths linked to COVID-19 is likely much higher, since many deaths likely occurred without the resident ever being tested for coronavirus infection.
A report by the San Jose Mercury News indicates the entire health system failed when it came to nursing homes by not making them a priority equal to hospitals for receiving personal protective equipment, ventilators and other equipment necessary in the fight against the outbreak.
Last week, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services urged nursing homes to use separate staff and separate sections of their facilities specifically for COVID-19 patients to help protect other residents and staff from falling ill.
Currently, there are more than half a million reported cases of coronavirus infection reported across the U.S., as well as nearly 22,000 deaths.