More than 3,600 deaths nationwide have been linked to coronavirus outbreaks in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, an alarming rise in just the past two weeks.
The latest count of at least 3,621 deaths is up from about 450 deaths just 10 days ago, according go the Associated Press, which has kept its own count because the federal government has not been releasing its own tally.
But the true toll among the 1 million mostly frail and elderly people who live in such facilities is likely much higher, experts say, because most state counts don’t include those who died without ever being tested for COVID-19.
Outbreaks in just the past few weeks have included one at a nursing home in suburban Richmond, Virginia, that has killed 42 and infected more than 100.
More than 3,600 deaths nationwide have been linked to coronavirus outbreaks in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, an alarming rise in just the past two weeks. A patient at the Magnolia Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Riverside, California, is evacuated on April 8
Wheelchairs are stacked at the curb outside PruittHealth Grandview nursing home where at least 10 patients who were previously tested presumptive positive for COVID-19 have passed away on Wednesday, in Athens, Georgia
Another outbreak occurred at a nursing home in central Indiana that has killed 24 and infected 16.
A third took place at a veterans home in Holyoke, Massachusetts, that has killed 38, infected 88 and prompted a federal investigation.
This comes weeks after an outbreak at a nursing home in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland that has so far claimed 43 lives.
And those are just the outbreaks we know about. Most states provide only total numbers of nursing home deaths and don’t give details of specific outbreaks.
Notable among them is the nation’s leader, New York, which accounts for 1,880 nursing home deaths out of about 96,000 total residents but has so far declined to detail specific outbreaks, citing privacy concerns.
Experts say nursing home deaths may keep climbing because of chronic staffing shortages that have been made worse by the coronavirus crisis, a shortage of protective supplies and a continued lack of available testing.
And the deaths have skyrocketed despite steps taken by the federal government in mid-March to bar visitors, cease all group activities, and require that every worker be screened for fever or respiratory symptoms at every shift.
But an AP report earlier this month found that infections were continuing to find their way into nursing homes because such screenings didn’t catch people who were infected but asymptomatic.
There are more 561,000 confirmed cases of the virus in the United States with more than 22,000 deaths
A sign is displayed at the Bethany Pointe Health Campus on Saturday in Anderson, Indiana, where multiple residents at the nursing home have died from COVID-19
A refrigeration truck sits outside of the Holyoke Soldiers home in Holyoke, Massachusetts, where an outbreak has killed 38, infected 88 and prompted a federal investigation
Several large outbreaks were blamed on such spreaders, including infected health workers who worked at several different nursing home facilities.
This past week, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that regulates nursing homes issued recommendations urging nursing homes to use separate staffing teams for residents, and to designate separate facilities within nursing homes to keep COVID-19 positive residents away from those who have tested negative.
Dr Deborah Birx, who leads the White House coronavirus response, suggested this past week that as more COVID-19 tests become available, nursing homes should be a top priority.
‘We need to really ensure that nursing homes have sentinel surveillance. And what do I mean by that? That we’re actively testing in nursing homes, both the residents and the workers, at all times,’ Birx said.
News of the surge comes just days after NBC reveled that at least 2,489 care homes across the US have confirmed cases of coronavirus, a 522 per cent increase from a federal ‘estimate’ released just 12 days ago – meaning that there has either been a recent explosion in cases or a drastic underestimation by the US government.
The NBC report was the first to confirm that the federal government is not keeping a record of the total number of nursing home deaths.
The lack of cohesive data has prompted outcry from experts, given that elderly people much more likely to be impacted by COVID-19, and mass deaths can occur at care homes if the virus infiltrates the facilities.
‘It’s impossible to fight and contain this virus if we don’t know where it’s located. You could see where it could be headed next,’ David Grabowski, a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School, told NBC.
Medics transport a patient from an ambulance into Life Care Center of Kirkland, the long-term care facility linked to confirmed coronavirus cases in Washington state
Many nursing homes across the country ramped up their health and safety measures after an outbreak at Washington state’s Life Care Center of Kirkland back in February. A resident is pictured in the Kirkland facility back in February
The shocking report about the lack of federal government data follows separate revelations out of New York, where paramedics have revealed they have not been testing people for coronavirus if they die at home or on the street.
It suggests that the soaring death toll from the virus could be much higher than currently reported.
Of the 36 states that did unveil their figures, New York was the most affected.
UNDER REPORTING OF DEATHS AND A LACK OF CLEAR DATA
The fact that the federal government is not keeping a record of the total number of nursing home deaths has sparked outrage, but there are other examples where data is not being cohesively obtained by authorities.
A disturbing new report out of New York asserts that bodies being recovered from homes and streets are not being included in the coronavirus death count – even if the deceased person was suffering from symptoms of the virus.
Data from the NYC fire department shows that 1,125 people died in their homes or on the street in the first five days of April alone
It suggests that the soaring death toll from the virus could be much higher than currently reported
This has alarmed researchers who say that obtaining accurate data is crucial in order to gain an proper understanding of COVID-19, which is needed to help fight the virus in the coming months.
A total of 452 nursing homes across New York state have recorded residents with COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Illinois rank second with 213 separate nursing homes battling coronavirus, while Texas came in third with 195 affected care homes.
Numbers were far lower in more rural states. Wyoming and Montana only have one infected nursing home each.
States that did not reveal their data include Florida, Michigan and Ohio – which have all been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
Many nursing homes across the country ramped up their health and safety measures after an outbreak at Washington state’s Life Care Center of Kirkland back in February.
The nursing home was the original epicenter of the COVID-19 virus in the US after dozens of residents became infected back in mid-February.
A total of 37 people connected to the Life Care Center of Kirkland have died from COVID-19 in the past two months.
‘For better or worse, we got to sound the alarm for other nursing homes across the state and across the country,’ nursing home spokesperson Tim Killian recently stated. .
In early April, the Life Care Center of Kirkland was fine $611,325 for ‘inadequate care’.
Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus cases throughout the US continues to skyrocket.
As of Sunday evening, more than 561,000 Americans have tested positive for the contagious virus.