Why Have Nursing Home Outbreaks Continued?

by Carol J. Bova

In a July 29 tele-press conference, Dr. Norman Oliver, Virginia’s Commissioner of Health, said, “We’ve made a concerted effort at testing in nursing homes and other congregate settings. … We’ve done 456 such point prevalence surveys [PPS] covering all of our skilled nursing facilities and correctional facilities.”

As of June 5th, the Department of Health had recorded 224 outbreaks with 5,230 cases in long term care facilities (LTCF) — nursing homes, assisted living and group homes — and 30 outbreaks in correctional facilities with 1,568 cases.

By August 5th there were 100 more outbreaks with 3,090 additional cases in nursing homes and similar facilities, and 18 more in correctional facilities with another 1330 cases.

That’s a total of 372 facility outbreaks, 11,218 cases, from the 456 facilities where PPS testing was carried out. There have been no recent statements on what impact the PPS testing had in reducing cases. Did the testing come too late in the pandemic, or did outbreaks occur in spite of the testing because of infection control failures?

The VDH 2020 News Releases don’t mention how many infection control assessment inspections have been made in nursing homes or anything about the results.

With the controlled environments of long term care facilities, it makes no sense that the outbreaks should be continuing unchecked.

Note: VDH shows the only total number by Health District for all outbreaks and outbreak cases. Statewide, besides LTCF and Correctional facilities, the other three categories of outbreaks included in the list are:

Congregate Settings: 221 outbreaks, 3041 cases
Healthcare Settings: 48 outbreaks, 405 cases
Educational Settings: 29 outbreaks 126 cases

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