The coronavirus is spreading rapidly through eldercare communities in the United States, with at least 72 facilities in 22 states reporting infections, according to a new report from The Washington Post.
Using information gathered from states, local media and nursing homes, the news outlet found that at least 55 deaths had occurred among facilities as of late Friday – representing more than one quarter of all coronavirus-related deaths to date.
The findings also highlight the strain on an industry that’s dedicated to serving people who happen to be most vulnerable to the illness, in settings that can help facilitate its spread. The disease’s devastating course through a facility in Seattle that’s now connected to at least 129 cases was no fluke, local public health official Jeffrey Duchin told the news outlet. “This could happen anywhere,” he said.
Government officials and facility operators began manning defenses after that initial outbreak, but they may have been too late to slow the virus, according to the writers. The industry is now dogged by a variety of factors, including problems with access to testing, shortages of personal protective equipment and staff, and infection control capabilities that are not built to absorb a crisis of this magnitude, they found.
Despite these struggles, one New York nursing home administrator predicted that hospitals may soon lean on post-acute facilities to help handle overflow as the outbreak continues.
“[I]t’s going to get worse before it gets better,” he told the Post.