90% of the coronavirus deaths in Connecticut last week were nursing home patients


And in NY, that’s where Governor Cuomo sent corona stricken seniors.

Nearly 90 percent of the coronavirus deaths in Connecticut last week were nursing home patients

By Dave Altimari, Hartford Courant | May 06, 2020 |

Nearly 90% of the COVID-related deaths recorded by the state last week occurred in nursing homes as COVID-19 continues to attack residents of long-term care facilities and the state prepares to partially reopen later this month.

Between April 22 and April 29, the state’s death total rose from 1,544 to 2,089, or 545 new deaths, according to data released by the state Department of Public Health. In that same seven-day period nursing home deaths rose from 768 to 1,249, meaning 481 among the 545 new deaths — about 88% — were nursing home patients.

“This brings tears to everyone’s eyes,” said Yale epidemiologist Dr. Albert Ko, who also is co-chairman of Gov. Ned Lamont’s advisory board to reopen the state.

Ko said the nursing home population is like “princess diamonds” that need to be protected. He said the advisory board has talked about the rising nursing home deaths but is not ready to reveal any recommendations it may have.

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“We’re really worried about this group and one of the major things we need to do is protect them,” Ko said. “But this virus blows up like wildfire in the facilities and is hard to contain.”

Connecticut is not alone in suffering a high rate of deaths in its nursing homes. Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island have also seen similar increases and on Tuesday New York announced that there had been about 1,700 more deaths in nursing homes than had been previously reported.

Overall about 60% of Connecticut’s COVID-19 deaths have been nursing home patients — similar numbers to Massachusetts and New Jersey. In Rhode Island the death rate is nearly 70%.

DPH spokesman Av Harris said the department is about to ramp up its testing program as supplies have started to arrive and are shipped to nursing homes across the state. It will be a large task, as there are more than 20,000 elderly residents in the state’s 215 nursing homes.
Covid-19 Nursing Home Deaths vs. All Other Deaths
“As far as testing for nursing home residents, DPH has distributed hundreds of new testing kits to nursing homes in Connecticut this week and we expect the capacity for testing of the residents most vulnerable to COVID-19 to greatly expand in the coming weeks,” Harris said.

At a press conference Thursday Gov. Lamont said while hospitalizations had gone down for the eighth straight day there were still 89 deaths and the nursing home deaths were “something we have to think about seriously.”

Last week a team from the Connecticut National Guard arrived to assist DPH officials in inspecting all 215 nursing homes in the state to ensure they are following proper infection control procedures, have ample staff and enough PPE for them to wear while caring for COVID-19 patients.

DPH also asked for assistance from the federal Centers for Disease Control.
National Guard and CDC will assist Connecticut with inspection and monitoring of nursing homes as deaths spike during coronavirus pandemic »

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has accompanied DPH staff on more than 47 different nursing home surveys and provided consultation to surveyors and the nursing homes relative to infection control and prevention,” Harris said.

“We are committed to doing everything possible to slow down the spread of this virus in our long-term care facilities and save as many lives as we can,” Harris said.
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Testing health care workers will be important as the state reopens, according to Dr. Summer McGee, dean of the University of New Haven’s School of Health Sciences.

“While nursing home cases are somewhat isolated, we still need to remain vigilant to ensure health care workers in those facilities are not resulting in community spread and that strict visitation restrictions continue to limit the spread outside of nursing homes,” McGee said. “Nursing home residents are a large percentage of the deaths in Connecticut but they are not the only source of new cases. New case counts demonstrate that community spread is still taking place.”

Overall, Ko said that death rates are normally a few weeks behind other factors that experts look at in determining the path of a virus.

“In Connecticut we clearly have decreasing transmission rates and we are coming down the curve,” Ko said.

Ko said nursing home deaths are slightly different than people who die in the community in terms of transmitting the virus, since they are mostly in confined areas and not out in the public spreading the disease.

Lamont has said that the state will start reopening on May 20. The plan will start with the opening of offices, retail stores, hair and nail salons, outdoor areas at restaurants and outdoor museums and zoos. Employees who can work from home will still be encouraged to do so.

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