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COVID-19 infections surging again in U.S. nursing homes

Maryland Governor Hogan Visits Genesis Nursing Home as They Receive Their Covid-19 Vaccination on December 23, 2020. Source - Maryland GovPics. CC SA 2.0.
Maryland Governor Hogan Visits Genesis Nursing Home as They Receive Their Covid-19 Vaccination on December 23, 2020. Source - Maryland GovPics. CC SA 2.0.

COVID-19 infections and deaths are soaring again at U.S. nursing homes because of the Omicron wave, leading to new restrictions on family visits and a renewed push to get more residents and staff members vaccinated and boosted.

Nursing homes reported a near-record of about 32,000 COVID-19 cases among residents in the week ending Jan. 9, an almost sevenfold increase from a month earlier, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A total of 645 COVID-19-related deaths among residents were recorded during the same week, a 47 percent increase from the earlier period. And there are fears that deaths could go much higher before omicron is through.

COVID-19 cases for nursing home residents on Dec. 19 were at 4,361, and cases on Jan. 9 were at 32,061. For nursing home staff, cases went from 5,919 on Dec. 19 to 57,243 on Jan. 9, according to The Hill.

“As soon as news of Omicron broke in December, we were very concerned this variant would lead to a surge of cases in the U.S. and therefore, an increase in cases in nursing homes and unfortunately it has,” Mark Parkinson, president, and CEO of AHCA and​​ National Center for Assisted Living, said.

Even though the rising number of coronavirus cases brought on by the Omicron variant is cause for concern, the situation is not as dire as it was in December 2020, when nursing home deaths per week topped out at about 6,200, reports the Associated Press.

Experts credit the high vaccination rates now among nursing home residents: About 87 percent are fully vaccinated, according to CDC data.

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