Nursing Home Covid Cases Rise as Staff Go Unvaccinated

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Experts believe unvaccinated employees may be related to the rise in Covid-19 cases among nursing home residents.

Data provided by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services indicate that over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, 662,495 nursing home residents had confirmed cases of the disease and 133,513 nursing home residents lost their lives to it. A recent report by the New York Times suggests that while rising vaccination rates in nursing homes have drastically mitigated the number of fatalities, cases have begun rising due to unvaccinated nursing home staff members.

According to the Times report, a spate of breakthrough cases among vaccinated residents of the Good Samaritan Society chain of nonprofit nursing homes has been attributed to unvaccinated staff members “testing positive, seemingly carrying the virus into the home from the community.” This trend spurred the chain to impose a vaccine mandate on its staff members. As the Times notes, the nursing home industry is currently dealing with a broader uptick in positive Covid-19 diagnoses. CMS data indicates that nursing home cases “quadrupled from the week ending July 4 to the week ending Aug. 1,” reaching a high of 2,092 cases, or “the highest figure reported since late February.” In the last week of that period, 296 residents lost their lives to Covid-19.

Some nursing home stakeholders are resisting calls for vaccine mandates, according to the Times, because they fear staff members will leave their jobs rather than get vaccinated. As of the Times’ report last week, “Only about 60 percent of nursing home staff members [were] vaccinated, and some states report an even lower rate, with less than half inoculated.” Data provided by the Centers for Disease Control indicates that just as cases are rising among nursing home residents, they are also rising among nursing home staff members, with more than 3,300 cases and 12 deaths between July 26th and August 1st.

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Some nursing home chains and local governments are instituting vaccine mandates to combat the rising cases.

In response to these trends, both state governments and nursing home companies are taking action to protect residents. As the Times notes, Genesis Healthcare, “one of the largest nursing home operators,” committed to imposing a vaccine mandate on staff by late August. Municipal governments in Denver, Colorado and San Francisco, California are planning vaccine mandates for nursing home workers; the state of Massachusetts is requiring full vaccination of nursing home staffers by October; and California is requiring nursing home workers either to get vaccinated or receive Covid-19 tests on a weekly basis.

More information on the rising Covid-19 cases in nursing homes, and the initiatives being taken to stop them, is available via the New York Times.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, PLLC work diligently to protect the rights of nursing home residents.  Please contact us to discuss in the event you have a potential case involving neglect or abuse.

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