Here’s why nursing homes are turning the corner on COVID-19 cases

covid nursing home vaccination numbers
Photo via Maryland GovPics/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing homes have been a major site of concern. There’s new, encouraging reporting showing that, thanks in large part to vaccinations, nursing home case numbers are improving. 

Axios reported on Feb. 23 that “the number of coronavirus cases in nursing homes and assisted living facilities has drastically declined over the last two months,” attributable in large part to making inoculation a priority with nursing homes. 

Citing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention numbers, the website reported that nursing home vaccinations began in the second half of December 2020, with about 4.5 million residents and nursing home and assisted living facility staff members receiving at least one dose of the COVID vaccine so far. 

That’s vital, because even though long-term care facilities account for less than 1% of the population, that population represents 35% of all coronavirus deaths in the U.S.

And there’s encouraging new data about vaccines and helping elderly populations navigate COVID-19. The Washington Post reported on Scottish researchers’ new findings with the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines, released Feb. 22, showing that the inoculations “greatly reduced hospital admissions for COVID-19 among the elderly—changing by up to 85% and 94%, respectively.” 

The article went on to note, “From December until the middle of February, more than 8,000 people ended up in the hospital with COVID-19 in Scotland, but only 58 of those patients came from the vaccinated group.” 

At least one governor, Ohio’s Mike DeWine, announced revisions to its state’s nursing home guidelines on Feb. 21 in relation to the decreasing coronavirus case numbers. 

Fox 8 reported, “DeWine says the state is continuing to allow for in-person compassionate care visits, which is not the same as end-of-life visitation, he stipulated. He offered some examples of what might constitute a compassionate care visit, including if a patient is showing depression or is majorly affected by not being able to see loved ones.” 

DeWine also added that he believes nursing home visitation can soon open up more, given that positivity rates across the state are decreasing. He is contacting nursing homes throughout the state to allow for compassionate care visits, as well as encouraging the facilities to update their visitation status each week in accordance with state guidelines. 

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Sources: Axios, Washington Post, Fox 8

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