COVID-19 cases and deaths are on the rise in U.S. nursing homes because of the Omicron wave. Unfortunately, the increases led to new restrictions on family and friend visits and a push to get more staff and residents vaccinated. Sadly, nursing homes were the pandemic’s epicenter when it first started, which caused so many to close to the public. However, the vaccine allowed many to open to visitors last year. The contagious Omicron variant is causing closures again.
Nursing homes reported about 32,000 coronavirus cases among residents by the second week of January. This was a significant increase from last month, according to the CDC. In addition, there was a 47% increase in deaths. The fear is that deaths could increase before omicron clears out. Fortunately, the situation is not as dire as in December 2020. At that time, there was about 6,200 death per week. Medical experts are crediting the lower numbers this year to the vaccination rates among the residents. About 87% of the residents are fully vaccinated.
Nursing Homes Response to New Outbreaks
Nursing home officials’ are limiting visitors to common areas instead of allowing them into the residents’ rooms. They are reinstituting social distancing rules. States like New York have implemented their own rules, requiring proof of a negative test for their visitors and providing masks. Officials are also working to push vaccination numbers, especially boosters. Currently, 63% of nursing home residents nationally receive their extra dose. Booster percentages are worse for staff, with only 29% being boosted.
COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots are strong protection against coronavirus. As we know, immune-compromised and elderly folks are the most vulnerable to the virus.