The rate of COVID-19 cases in Texas nursing homes are surging, according to recent data. The rate of nursing home residents testing positive has increased more than 60 percent since the beginning of July. The new data is raising concerns that protective measures are lagging.
COVID-19 in Texas Nursing Homes
Nursing homes across the United States have been the site of massive outbreaks of COVID-19. Now, many in Texas are concerned that Texas nursing homes are next on the list. Nursing home advocates are worried that facilities may not be adequately prepared to stave off outbreaks. Texas’ long-term care ombudsman, Patty Ducayet, seems to agree with others who believe that protective measures are lagging. She told NBC News that,
“We had an opportunity to avoid what we’re experiencing right now. We got this chance to see what other states did, what awful things they were experiencing, so we might be ahead of the crisis. Now I’m bracing for more deaths to come and more cases.”
The surge of the novel coronavirus in Texas nursing homes is also underscoring the fact that the virus is surging across the state. Since the beginning of July, the rate of Texans testing positive has increased by 77 percent. The overall state increase is not just in nursing homes, and is also affecting younger age groups.
Experts say they are bracing for what could be an even bigger spike in cases.
Texas Not Easing Nursing Home Visitation Restrictions
Texas Governor, Gregg Abbott, says that the state will not ease nursing home visitation restrictions just yet. A spokesperson further notes that the decision to continue restrictions is the “most prudent” thing to do for the safety of residents.
Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Robert Redfield, has said that Texas nursing homes are seeing a recurrence of “substantial transmission” of the coronavirus. In response to Texas deciding not to ease visitation restrictions, Redfield says,
“This virus is continuing to be reintroduced to nursing homes and we need to shut that down.”
Statistics on COVID-19 in Texas Nursing Homes
Texas nursing homes are not seeing the surge of COVID-19 cases that other states have, such as New York. In New York, at least 6,400 nursing home residents have died. Still the numbers in Texas are trending up. Consider the following:
- From July 1 through July 10, there were almost 1,000 new nursing home resident infections.
- Across the state, there are reports of more than 11,100 cases.
- At least 1,400 Texas nursing home residents have died from the coronavirus.
- The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) estimates:
- 15,497 confirmed COVID-19 cases among nursing home residents
- 1,724 deaths in Texas nursing homes
- 1,510 confirmed cases among assisted living facility residents
- 224 deaths in assisted living facilities
Nursing Home Advocates Worry about Surge in COVID-19 Cases
Advocates worry that Texas will be the next state to be overrun with nursing home outbreaks. The American Health Care Association (AHCA) warns that rising numbers of coronavirus cases could be devastating for nursing home residents. The group says,
“With the major spikes of COVID cases in many states across the country, we are very concerned this trend will lead to a dramatic increase in cases in long-term facilities.”
In Texas, advocates believe that the surge in COVID-19 cases is due to the state’s reopening efforts. Texas nursing homes have remained closed to visitors, but the state has reopened many businesses, which means that staff members may constantly cycle between the community and the nursing home. The result could be unknowingly bringing the virus into the nursing home. There is also the chance that nursing home residents venturing out to doctors appointments, dialysis, etc. could bring the virus back into the facility.
The DSHS continues to investigate all nursing homes that have one or more positive cases. They hope to identify facilities that need more testing and help identify how the virus is getting into the facilities. This investigation continues as the state backtracks on reopening many businesses in an effort to stop the surge of COVID-19.