The number of local and statewide nursing home patients infected with COVID-19 and patient deaths soared this week despite flattening in general hospital admissions, according to data released by the state Department of Public Health.
Nursing home residents now comprise 57 percent of all COVID-19 related deaths statewide. Health officials report there are now 4,814 confirmed cases in the state’s nursing homes, compared to last week’s 3,423.
COVID related deaths rose sharply, from 568 to 958. The report also cited 291 probable deaths associated with the virus. There are a combined 19,319 licensed beds in the facilities.
The state also released the numbers of affected residents living in assisted living facilities.
According to the updated data, 558 residents in assisted living facilities in the state have tested positive, and another 140 are suspected of having the virus.
In Meriden, Apple Rehab Coccomo nursing home on Cone Avenue reported 26 positive cases, 10 more than last week, with six deaths and two probable deaths. Silver Springs nursing home on Roy Street saw a spike with 33 confirmed cases and no deaths, up from five cases last week. The Curtis Home on Crown Street reported 10 cases and six deaths, up from one death last week.
“Certainly the spike in nursing home cases and deaths is concerning,” said Lea Crown, Meriden director of health and human services. “It shows how contagious this virus is, and how easily it spreads. Also, how vulnerable our older residents and those with underlying health conditions are. Our heart goes out to those who are affected, and we thank those who are working on the front lines.”
All skilled nursing facilities have infection control practices in place. But research only recently revealed that infected people who don’t show symptoms can spread the illness, so those practices needed to change, Crown said. Having the proper equipment and assigning certain staff to treat only positive patients, a practice known as cohorting, is also critical.
“There will be many lessons learned to add to existing practices,” Crown said. “Isolation of those who are ill is key and will continue to be key, and following guidance given by state public health officials regarding cohorting staff and using proper (personal protective equipment).”
Crown added that nursing homes are in need of protective gowns and she hopes they will be included in the next PPE pickup from the state Department of Public Health,.
In Wallingford, Regency House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center saw its number of cases double from 19 to 38, and had seven new deaths up from two, and one probable death. Quinnipiac Valley Center rose to 42 cases with five deaths. Skyview Rehab and Nursing reported 16 cases and no deaths.
Elim Park in Cheshire reported 31 cases and five deaths and The Summit at Plantsville in Southington reported 35 cases, seven deaths and one probable death.
Montowese Health & Rehab Center in North Haven reported 48 positive residents, eight deaths and one probable death while LedgeCrest Health Care in Berlin had 29 cases, one death and one probable death.
At local assisted living facilities, Elim Park Baptist Home in Cheshire reported 27 cases and no deaths and Masonicare Health Care Pond Ridge at Ashlar Village had one patient, according to the state data. That number varies from previous Masonicare announcements in which multiple cases and at least one death were reported.
The state is also ramping up its testing, particularly for front line workers and hopes to have the capacity to perform 50,000 tests per week by the end of May, according to Gov. Ned Lamont.
It is also implementing a tracking system that will utilize test results and Microsoft software to make contact with others who may be infected. Even persons showing no symptoms would be tested.
“That would have been incredibly helpful in nursing homes to have,” Lamont said at a recent press conference.
Meriden and many other health departments and districts have offered to assist DPH in testing the new statewide contact tracing initiative called "contaCT,” Crown said. A launch date has not been set but training could begin as early as next week. The state hopes to have 300 volunteers for the tracking and is seeking an additional 300 to 500 volunteers enrolled in pubic health and social service programs at local universities.
All 64 health departments and districts will be using this system as part of a state-wide effort, Crown said.