Seniors in long-term care, such as nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, have now reported more than 29,000 new COVID-19 cases last week alone. The U.S. continues to see spikes in cases in long-term care centers specifically, placing these centers as a priority in the administration of the ongoing vaccine race.
Seema Verma, the administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, has warned of the dangers in nursing homes, where 19 percent of facilities have at least 10 cases. The “name of the game is to control the spread inside the nursing homes,” said Verma.
Is senior long-term care a government priority?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommending that a four-phase approach will be most effective in administering the vaccine starting with phase 1A targeting healthcare workers and first responders, and 1B focusing on individuals with underlying health conditions that put them at significant risk for serious illness, as well as older adults living in a congregate or crowded setting, such as nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, etc.
Recent data proved that of nearly 224,000 coronavirus related deaths in the U.S., more than 177,000 were in the 65-and-older cohort. Less than 1 percent of the U.S. population lives in such homes, but COVID-19 fatalities inside of them account for 40 percent of the national death toll.
Available statistics are likely to fail at capturing the gravity of the issue, as only 30 out of 50 states have reported data about active outbreaks within centers. Even still, these numbers paint a stark picture of pandemic life in facilities for America’s elderly, where residents often must forgo visitation or risk further spread.
As of November 23, there have been more than 257,274 COVID-19 related deaths cumulatively across the country, according to Johns Hopkins University.