Why Nursing Homes Can’t Stop the Coronavirus
MARICOPA COUNTY, AZ — One hundred nursing home residents from Maricopa County, Arizona, have died from COVID-19. In mid-April, 735 nursing home residents in Maricopa County facilities tested positive for COVID-19. One-quarter of them were sent to the hospital for advanced treatment, and 103 died as of Saturday. By Sunday, nine additional people who lived in Maricopa County nursing homes were dead. In Arizona, according to a report appearing in AZ Central, nursing home residents and staff are populations who are most vulnerable to contracting COVID-19. In Arizona, two-thirds of all COVID-19 deaths were nursing home residents or staff members. The reason that COVID-19 continues to flourish in nursing homes continues to be investigated. *
Nursing home settings are, unfortunately, conducive to the spread of infection. People live remarkably close to each other, even if they do not share a room with another resident. Moreover, nursing home residents are older and have numerous health concerns that make them vulnerable to complications from COVID-19.
There are other reasons, as well, that COVID-19 continues to thrive in nursing homes. Many facilities operate with a staff shortage. Furthermore, the staff that nursing homes have lack essential protective gear designed to prevent the spread of disease.
Testing shortages have also caused the virus to spread almost uncontrollably in nursing homes. Inadequate test kits prevent nursing homes from identifying patients with COVID-19 early and quarantining them from healthy residents. Despite requests for more testing, universal testing is not feasible in the immediate future.
The shortage of PPE, or personal protective equipment, cannot be underemphasized. Healthcare workers can spread the virus from patient to patient if the worker becomes infected. Therefore, having PPE for all staff members is vital to eradicating the virus from nursing home populations. Until then, nursing home executives say that the novel coronavirus will continue to present a danger to nursing home residents and the people who take care of them.
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