Nursing

More than 100 N.J. nursing homes have had coronavirus outbreaks since summer as crisis continues

The coronavirus devastated New Jersey’s nursing homes this spring, killing thousands of residents and prompting a raft of measures to better protect the state’s most vulnerable population.

Since that time, long-term care facilities say they have stockpiled personal protective equipment. They’ve developed protocols for testing residents and staff and isolating those who are sickened. Visitors continue to be limited by state regulators, amid fears the virus will be reintroduced as families reunite with their loved ones.

Yet despite those precautions, the coronavirus continues to creep into the state’s nursing homes, assisted-living centers and other senior facilities, even among those that managed to eradicate their original outbreaks, Department of Health data shows.

Across New Jersey, at least 102 long-term care facilities saw new outbreaks this summer or fall after being declared COVID-19 free, according to a review by NJ Advance Media. Included in those were 11 facilities in which residents or staffers died in the new contagions.

That points to a somber reality as New Jersey grapples with a concerning resurgence of coronavirus in recent weeks: Even as nursing homes have had nearly seven months of experience combating the virus, many remain unable to keep it wholly at bay. Still, those outbreaks are proving less deadly and easier to contain than in March or April, when underprepared facilities were floored by a pandemic that caught them, the state and the country flat-footed, flooding New Jersey’s hospitals and morgues.

On Friday, a union that represents 8,000 nursing home workers in New Jersey expressed concerns about a second wave of the disease and the impacts it could carry.

“Nursing home operators need to be taking every precaution, including giving frontline workers access to n95 masks, gowns and surgical masks before, not after, new outbreaks emerge,” said Milly Silva, the executive vice president of

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Nearly three times more COVID deaths in Mississippi’s for-profit nursing homes, analysis shows | State Government

Twice as many residents caught COVID-19 at Mississippi’s for-profit nursing homes, and nearly three times more died there, an analysis of health data by the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting shows.

The average number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in these for-profit homes? Four in 10 residents.

One possible factor: 80% of Mississippi’s nursing homes had already been cited for infection-control problems before the pandemic hit.

Charlene Harrington, a professor emeritus at the University of California at San Francisco who discovered similar results in a just-released study of nursing homes in California, said the current pandemic is exposing problems that have persisted for decades. “We’ve just looked the other way for 30 years,” she said.

OSHA has been investigating three nursing homes in Mississippi, all of them for-profit, for workplace catastrophes or fatalities, including Lakeside Health & Rehabilitation Center in Quitman. One of the home’s nursing assistants, Carole Faye Doby of Stonewall, died of COVID May 15, and two residents also died of the disease.

A week or more before she contracted the coronavirus, Doby warned her family that “things were getting bad at the nursing home, and that we didn’t need to come around,” recalled her daughter, Shenika Jackson of Clinton.

She said her mother shared that a fellow worker and a resident (who later died) had both come down with the disease.

On May 6, Doby was tested for COVID. Days later, they saw her on Mother’s Day, Jackson said. “We did see her on Sunday, Mother’s Day. We sat outside the porch and ate lunch. She was inside the window.”

By May 11, her mother still didn’t have results and continued to get sicker so she saw a doctor, who had her rushed to the hospital by ambulance, Jackson said.

Because of COVID, she couldn’t visit with her

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Nevada Lifts Block on Rapid Covid-19 Tests in Nursing Homes

The state of Nevada withdrew a directive that blocked nursing homes from using federally provided rapid coronavirus testing equipment late on Friday, in response to an order from the Trump administration.

Nevada told nursing homes on Oct. 2 to stop using the rapid-testing equipment, citing concerns about false-positive results. The back and forth highlights a debate over the proper use of the tests after reports of some false positives.

In a letter to state officials, Adm. Brett Giroir, the Department of Health and Human Services official who has overseen U.S. testing efforts, said the state’s action to ban use of the tests was “inconsistent with and preempted by federal law and, as such, must cease immediately or appropriate action will be taken against those involved.” The letter was dated Oct. 8 and made public Friday.

Adm. Giroir defended the performance of the federally supplied equipment on a call Friday with reporters, saying the false-positive rate was low and the issue could be managed by using proper procedures to confirm results. The state’s action wasn’t justified, he said. Adm. Giroir declined to say what enforcement action the federal government could take against Nevada, but said he expected the state to comply with the federal order.

“We are very disappointed by the letter received today from U.S. HHS Giroir, as our goal remains united in protecting those most vulnerable in our communities,” Ihsan Azzam, Nevada’s chief medical officer, said. “We too want more testing with rapid turnaround in Nevada, but the results of those tests must be accurate as they affect clinical care.”

“We are not saying the tests have no use, we are just saying pause for further review and additional training,” he added. The health department issued a new bulletin late on Friday, recommending that nursing facilities continue to perform

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County reports new coronavirus deaths at nursing homes for first time in 3 weeks

For the first time in three weeks, San Diego County reported new coronavirus deaths among residents and health care workers at skilled nursing facilities.

As of Wednesday, there have been 173 deaths from COVID-19 among nursing home staff and residents combined, up from 168 reported during the last two weeks. San Diego County reported 1,139 cases of novel coronavirus among nursing home residents and 729 cases among health care workers Wednesday, up from 1,103 and 717 last week.

One new outbreak in skilled nursing homes was reported by the county this week, bringing the total to 84 over the course of the pandemic. There are 20 nursing home outbreaks that are still deemed active, down from the 21 active ones reported last week.

Unlike community outbreaks that are defined as three or more linked cases from separate households, outbreaks in nursing homes only need one case among either residents or health care workers. An outbreak is considered inactive once no one at the facility has tested positive for novel coronavirus for at least two weeks.

According to the California Department of Public health database, 53 of the county’s 86 skilled nursing facilities have been approved to resume indoor visitations.

Only five facilities in the county haven’t recorded a single case among either residents or health care workers, according to the state’s database. They are Amaya Springs Health Care Center in Spring Valley, Arroyo Vista Nursing Center in San Diego, Monte Vista Lodge in Lemon Grove, Somerset Subacute and Care in El Cajon, and Valle Vista Convalescent Hospital in Escondido.

Those looking for COVID-19 statistics or visitation information at a specific skilled nursing facility can view the online version of this story at http://bit.ly/SNFOct7 to search the full dataset.

Nursing home administrators were reminded Monday of their obligation to help residents

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Nevada Revokes Halt on Rapid Antigen Testing in Nursing Homes

A week later, however, Admiral Giroir cracked down on Nevada’s “illegal” prohibition on BD’s and Quidel’s tests, which he said had imperiled the residents and staff of nursing homes across the state. “They cannot supersede the PREP Act,” he said.

The false positives that had emerged, Admiral Giroir said, were not only expected but “actually an outstanding result.” No test is perfect, he said.

In the Nevada statement, Dr. Azzam reaffirmed his concerns with the number of false positives that had arisen. “If this laboratory data discrepancy had been reported to Dr. Giroir, we would hope he would have taken the same action as Nevada,” he said. “We too want more testing with rapid turnaround in Nevada, but the results of those tests must be accurate, as they affect clinical care.”

The state’s nursing facilities can resume use of BD’s and Quidel’s products, according to a new Nevada directive issued on Oct. 9. But Nevada’s department of health also recommended that all antigen test results, positive or negative, be confirmed by a laboratory test that relies on a slow but very accurate and reliable technique called polymerase chain reaction, or P.C.R. False negatives, officials noted, risk exposing healthy people in nursing homes to someone who is unknowingly contagious. False positives, on the other hand, could prompt the placement of a person who is well into a unit with sick people, also increasing the chance of infection.

“Both of these scenarios could result in causing harm to a population that we have collectively worked so hard to protect,” the directive said. State health officials, it said, would also continue to investigate the use of BD’s and Quidel’s products.

“We need to better understand the issue before encouraging mass use of such tools among our most vulnerable citizens,” Dr. Azzam said. “We

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