Not only do these facilities bring people into close quarters where the virus can spread more easily, but Catherine Sevier, the president of the North Carolina chapter for AARP, said residents in these facilities are some of the most vulnerable to the infection.
“The biggest risk factor for dying from COVID is being older, having a comorbid condition, having another condition that puts you at risk and then being in congregate living,” Sevier said. “So when you put those three things together, that is ‘nursing home’ in bright lights.”
Back in April, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper instituted strict restrictions for nursing homes, banning visitors and closing common spaces to limit the spread of the virus. However, cases still began to spread throughout the facilities.
In early May, weekly COVID-19 cases and deaths in nursing homes increased by 20%. By the end of that month, more than 3,000 residents were infected and more than 400 were dead.
Now, nursing home residents account for 40% of the state’s COVID-19 deaths. In September, cases and deaths increased by nearly 7% and 31 facilities reported new outbreaks.
According to data submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, in the last two months, 104 nursing homes statewide reported three or more confirmed COVID-19 cases in a week. Ninety-three nursing homes reported their first case in the last two months.
But Sevier said isolating residents can have detrimental psychological impacts, and he believes plans to reopen to some degree are necessary for patient and family peace of mind.
‘We’ve gotten so many more letters’: Raeford retirement home sees global response to pen pal program
“We’ve now realized