COVID-19 cases rose by nearly 80% in nursing homes earlier this summer, and it shows that care facilities are still struggling to contain the virus

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A soldier converses with a resident of the Elisabeth Roock House in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, on May 20, 2020. Jonas Güttler/picture alliance via Getty Images
  • Coronavirus cases in nursing homes increased by nearly 80% earlier this summer, a new report from the American Health Care Association said.
  • Nursing homes have about 8% of the national caseload and 41% of total US COVID-19 deaths.
  • 9,715 coronavirus cases were recorded in nursing homes the week of July 26, a 77% increase from June 21.

  • During the week of July 26, cases in nursing homes in the Sun Belt states accounted for 78% of all cases, and 69% of deaths compared to less than a third of cases, and 28% of deaths during the week of May 31.
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Coronavirus cases in nursing homes increased by almost 80% earlier this summer, suggesting the challenge to containing the virus in that setting is far from over, a new report found.

“The case numbers suggest the problem is far from solved,” Tamara Konetzka, a research professor at the University of Chicago who specialises in long-term care told the Associated Press.

According to the report from the American Health Care Association, 9,715 coronavirus cases were recorded in nursing homes the week of July 26, which is a 78% increase from June 21.

Business Insider previously reported that nursing homes have about 8% of the national caseload and 41% of total US COVID-19 deaths.

The AP added that nursing homes only account for 1% of the population.

Additionally, the study found that on the week of July 26, the number of weekly deaths increased by almost 25% compared to July 5, adding up to 1,706 deaths.

The share of cases and deaths increased mostly in Sun Belt states, where coronavirus cases were surging in general.

“As the virus surges in Sun Belt states, there’s no reason to think it won’t affect nursing homes in the same way it did in states that surged earlier,” Konetzka told the AP. “We have learned some things about how to minimise the effect in nursing homes, but providers need the tools to implement those best practices. This is the critical role of federal policy that has not been fulfilled- securing supply chains for (personal protective equipment) and rapid testing.”

The week of July 26, cases in nursing homes in the Sun Belt states accounted for 78% of all cases and 69% of deaths compared to the week of May 31 when nursing homes saw less than a third of cases, and 28% of deaths.

“With the recent major spikes of COVID cases in many states across the country, we were very concerned this trend would lead to an increase in cases in nursing homes and unfortunately it has,” Mark Parkinson, President and CEO of the American Health Care Association and National Centre for Assisted Living said in the study. “This is especially troubling since many nursing homes and other long term care facilities are still unable to acquire the personal protective equipment and testing they need to fully combat this virus.”

Infections control inside nursing facilities is one of the contributors to the growing number of cases and deaths, one expert told the AP, but others said the biggest obstacle to scaling back cases in nursing homes is asymptomatic spreaders.

Mark Parkinson, head of the nursing home trade group that produced the study, told the AP that 1 out of 10 facilities reported still lacking adequate personal protective equipment as well.

Other challenges include a proper testing regime, which Business Insider previously reported would be too expensive for any facility to afford on its own.

Business Insider reported that it would cost $US675 million for a single round of testing for every worker and resident in a nursing home and assisted-living facility, according to an estimate from the American Health Care Association.