As Connecticut leaders this week unveiled plans to ramp up testing among the most vulnerable communities hit by COVID-19, the number of infections and deaths at senior care facilities continued to rise, data released by the state Thursday shows.
The data showed that as of Wednesday, 1,927 Connecticut nursing home patients died with coronavirus or whose death is suspected to be associated with the illness. Another 276 residents of assisted living facilities have died after falling ill with COVID-19, the data shows. The data released Thursday marked the first time the governor’s office released the number of deaths at assisted living facilities, which differ from nursing homes in the level of care they provide senior residents.
Together, the deaths represent roughly 70 percent of the 3,125 COVID-19-related fatalities reported statewide as of Wednesday.
Nursing homes in Connecticut have reported 6,947 confirmed cases of the virus, representing just under 20 percent of the state’s 34,855 cases as of Wednesday. Confirmed cases of the virus at assisted living facilities account for about 2.5 percent of the statewide total.
Among the nursing homes with the most confirmed and probable deaths was Danbury’s Saint John Paul II Center, which reported 32 as of Wednesday, up from 30 last week.
East Hartford’s Riverside Health and Rehabilitation reported 54 confirmed and probable deaths as of Wednesday. Last week, the facility reported 47.
In Shelton, Bishop-Wicke Health and Rehabilitation reported 31 confirmed and probable deaths associated with the virus by Wednesday, up just one additional virus-linked death since last week.
Lord Chamberlain Nursing and Rehabilitation reported 32 lab-confirmed and probable coronavirus-related deaths, up from 29 last week.
In Torrington, Litchfield Wood reported 31 confirmed probable deaths linked to the coronavirus, one more than was reported last week.
Abbott Terrace Health Center in Waterbury reported 41 confirmed and probable deaths linked to the virus, seeing an increase from 38 reported in last week’s data.
Kimberly Hall North in Windsor reported 43 confirmed and probable deaths associated with the virus, a slight increase from the 40 reported last week.
The new numbers come as the governor’s office has made a push for plans to increase testing ahead of the May 20 gradual reopen of some businesses.
“The state is at risk, the country is at risk for a resurgence,” said Dr. Albert Ko, chairman of the epidemiology department at the Yale School of Medicine and an advisor on the governor’s reopening committee. “We know because of the transmissability of this disease.”
Ko, who spoke during the governor’s daily briefing, said a “key pillar” moving forward will be ensuring access to testing for populations vulnerable to the disease — including those in congregant settings like nursing homes.
“We have to protect the people in nursing homes — we’re doing the same as many other states. New York — you know that they’re screening their nursing home workers to protect their nursing home residents,” Ko said, referring to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan announced last weekend to test every nursing home staff member in the state twice a week.
Over the past week, staff from the state Department of Public Health and National Guard have delivered thousands of COVID-19 test kits to nursing homes, according to state officials.
A memo obtained by Hearst Connecticut Media this week details how the state plans for nursing homes to swab all of their residents for the disease and then receive test results from private labs within 24 hours. Once the homes know who has the virus, residents are to be quickly separated to prevent the virus from spreading further.
The governor’s office said those tests are planned to be completed by the beginning of June, and will be repeated going forward.
Also this week, the DPH publicized a trove of reports from inspections at nursing homes around the state following a series of inspections aided by personnel from the National Guard and federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
At least one facility, Golden Hill Rehab Pavilion in Milford, failed to quickly inform family members their loved one had tested positive for COVID-19, investigators found. The resident later died.
Separately, as the governor’s office said this week that the state received its largest shipment of protective equipment, nursing home workers still gathered near the capitol building Wednesday to protest what they say are shortcomings in the gear available to them.
In a statement, Pedro Zayas, a spokesman for SEIU 1199NE, a health care workers union representing staff in around 30 percent of the state’s nursing homes, said workers hoped to show some “worn down protective equipment” they have had to use in the midst of the pandemic.
Asked about the protest during Wednesday’s briefing, Gov. Ned Lamont said nursing homes are responsible for sourcing protective equipment, but the state serves as “a backup.”
“So there’s no excuse not to get the masks and the gowns workers deserve, we have the capacity,” the governor said.
Article from The CT Post
Written by By Peter Yankowski and Tara O’Neill