Urgent Attention Needed to Prevent COVID Outbreaks in Long Term Care Facilities
Letter to the National Governors Association (NGA
Thank you for your leadership in response to this unprecedented health crisis and the action your administrations have taken to prevent the outbreaks of COVID-19 in nursing homes and assisted living communities to protect our residents and dedicated caregivers.
However, with the major spikes of COVID cases in many states across the country, we are very concerned this trend will lead to a dramatic increase in cases in long term facilities.
Recent independent research by Harvard Medical School, Brown University’s School of Public Health and University of Chicago showed the level of COVID cases in the surrounding community was the top factor in outbreaks in nursing homes.
In fact, our own analysis found that approximately three-quarters of all nursing homes cases of COVID-19 resided in counties with greater than a 3.59 per 100,000 seven-day average rate of new cases of COVID-19.
Given the fact that the level of COVID in the community surrounding a nursing home is a leading indicator of cases in the facility, the major spikes of COVID cases in many states comes at a very challenging time as many states plan the reopening of long term care facilities and return of visitations from loved ones.
Reopening long term care facilities is important for our residents’ wellbeing and caregivers and providers recognize the importance of visitations of family and friends. To accomplish this goal, nursing homes and assisted living communities need additional support from federal and state public health agencies in order to protect residents and caregivers.
Nursing homes and assisted living communities cannot stop the virus by ourselves – not without testing, personal protective equipment (PPE), staff support and funding, and not without support from the public health sector.
On behalf of the long term care industry, we would like to request urgent attention and support from governors across the U.S. in these specific areas:
Direct state public health agencies to expediate lab processing time and a solution for on-site testing with reliable and rapid results.
Direct state public health agencies to provide additional support on PPE supplies – especially N-95 masks.