Coronavirus cases spike by 80 percent this summer in vulnerable nursing homes, report

The White House last month announced that it would release $5 billion for nursing homes and help equip roughly 15,000 of them with a fast-test machine to screen residents and staffers

Updated: August 18, 2020 - 1:48pm

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The number of coronavirus cases in U.S. nursing homes increased by nearly 80% earlier this summer, according to a report released Monday by the COVID Tracking Project.

The report attributed the spike to a resurgence of the deadly virus across the South and Southwest. 

“The case numbers suggest the problem is far from solved,” Tamara Konetzka, a research professor at the University of Chicago who specializes in long-term care, told the Associated Press. Konetzka was not involved with the study.

Long-term care facilities account for less than 1% of the U.S. population, but also account for over 40 percent of coronavirus deaths, according to the tracking project.

The White House announced in late July that it would release $5 billion for nursing homes and help equip roughly 15,000 of them with a fast-test machine to screen residents and staff for the virus.

Monday’s study from the American Health Care Association, the industry’s main trade association, found there were 9,715 coronavirus cases in nursing homes the week starting July 26, a 77% increase from a low point the week of June 21, the wire service also reported.

Nursing homes in Sunbelt states had more time to prepare than facilities in the Northeast that were hit in late winter and early spring.

The virus can spread quickly and result in sickness and death in such facilities because elderly residents, including many with preexisting conditions, are living in close quarters. Another likely factor is that staffers who don’t know they’re infected are bringing the virus in such facilities.