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COVID-19 Outbreaks Continue in Nursing Homes

Widespread and shocking outbreaks have continued to wreak havoc in nursing homes across the country, leaving families of loved ones in these facilities worried about their elderly relative’s health and safety. The first warning of devastation the coronavirus could cause within nursing homes came in late February, when residents of a suburban Seattle nursing home started to lose their lives due to COVID-19, while families were left hopelessly waiting outside. Now, about six weeks later, the coronavirus has claimed the lives of at least 7,000 residents within nursing home facilities, about a fifth of total U.S. COVID-19 deaths.

Some of the most disastrous outbreaks at long-term care facilities include a nursing home in Maryland, where at least 24 people have died, a facility in Kansas with more than 100 residents and workers that have been infected, a nursing home in New Jersey, where there have been 17 deaths, A Virginia facility where more than a quarter of residents at the facility have died, and military veteran homes in Florida, New York, Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Washington.

New Jersey state officials revealed that COVID-19 infections have broken out in 394 long-term care facilities, accounting for two-thirds of the state’s nursing homes, and more than 1,500 of the state’s coronavirus-related deaths were tied to nursing homes. In the U.S., more than 36,500 residents and employees at nursing home facilities across the country have contracted the coronavirus.

These drastic numbers are said to be caused by a number of factors, including a lack of test kits, protective gear, and the fact that federal health officials have designated nursing homes and long-term care facilities at a lower priority level than hospitals. This lack of prioritization leads to longer turnaround times for test results, a significant issue for slowing the spread of coronavirus. 

Although the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued new guidance last month requiring nursing home administrators to restrict all visitors, cancel group activities, shut down dining rooms, and screen all residents and staff members for fevers and respiratory illnesses, some families and workers have reported that restrictions are unevenly enforced. On top of this, many nursing homes are facing severe staffing shortages. In fact, employees at some facilities have stopped appearing at work, causing residents to be transported to different facilities.

This situation has led to anxious family members concerned about what steps to take next. Some family members are struggling to decide whether to bring their loved ones home, but many cannot provide extensive medical care that is necessary.

Even amid a pandemic, we expect care facilities to do everything they can to keep their residents and staff safe while keeping everyone informed. The Spiros Law attorneys are here to help represent and fight for the rights of residents and workers alike who have been harmed due to a nursing home or long-term care facility not taking the proper steps to protect their residents and employees. Our helpful staff is available to evaluate your situation and discuss your legal options. Though our offices are currently closed for in-person meetings due to the Illinois “shelter-in-place” order, you can still contact us over the phone, on email, or by scheduling a video meeting.