News & Politics

Nursing Homes Account for an Appalling Percentage of Coronavirus Deaths

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

I touched on this in my VIP column earlier but this part is worth its own post.

The Guardian has taken a look at where U.S. COVID deaths are actually happening and it turns out a very large number of them are in nursing homes. They are “ground zero” for the pandemic, according to former CDC head Tom Frieden. He wrote that on March 8. Have we acted on this knowledge?

In Connecticut, 194 of 216 nursing homes have had at least one Covid-19 case. Nearly half the Covid-19 deaths in the state – more than 1,200 people – have been of nursing home residents. The proportion is higher elsewhere. In New Hampshire, 72% of deaths have been nursing home residents.

It’s almost 82% in Minnesota, which has the nation’s highest percentage of nursing home COVID deaths. A fifth of all of America’s coronavirus nursing home deaths are in New York, where Gov. Cuomo made that situation far worse by forcing nursing homes to take COVID patients. The original outbreak, in Washington State, was also in a nursing home.

We’ve known about the nursing home issue from the beginning of this disaster. But have we really take this into account in our strategy to beat it? No, we’ve kept everyone locked down disproportionally both to the regional threat and based on the virus’ impact on the elderly and those in long-term care facilities.

Why are we being stupid about this? Why are we crushing the entire economy when we could be far smarter? Why are we doing stupid things like banning swimming but allowing surfing?

We have a choice.

We can keep the entire country (or major parts of it, which happen to tend to be the blue states) in some form of lockdown until it collapses.

Or we can protect the people who actually need it the most, with reasonable measures that allow working people to, you know, work.

I have more thoughts on this here. We may never have a vaccine, so we will have to develop herd immunity and use strategies to beat this thing. Just holing up at home isn’t working and it’s not sustainable.

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