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Unvaccinated staff focus of federal investigation into rising nursing home deaths – Colorado Springs, Colorado

Colorado Springs, Colorado 2021-07-22 09:26:22 –

By Jason Dearen and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar Associated Press

Washington- Delayed vaccination rates for nursing home staff are associated with a nationwide increase in COVID-19 infections and deaths in senior institutions, and sick detectives found that many workers were unvaccinated in Colorado. It is at the center of a federal investigation in the area that was hit hard.

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at a facility in the Grand Junction area could risk successful protection of vulnerable older people with vaccines as more aggressive delta variants spread across the country. Raises concerns among public health doctors.

Nationally, about 59% of nursing home staff are vaccinated, about the same as the overall proportion of fully vaccinated adults, according to Medicare, but vaccinated residents. It is significantly lower than about 80% of. In some states, vaccination rates are much lower, around 40%.

Some policymakers are asking the government to close the gap by demanding shootings from nursing home staff. This is an obligation that the Biden administration is hesitant to issue. Nursing home operators are afraid that such a move could backfire and are urging many staff with vaccine problems to simply quit their jobs.

Indeed, the vast majority of fully vaccinated people infected with the delta mutant suffer from only mild symptoms.

However, Dr. Joshua Schaffstein, vice president of public health practice at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Public Health School, said, “Elderly people may not respond completely to the vaccine and there is a very high risk that someone will get the virus. “.

“Vaccination of nursing home workers is a national emergency, as delta variants are also a threat to those who are already vaccinated,” he said.

The CDC conducted a survey of delta variants that occurred in elderly care facilities in Mesa County in May and June. This area is a hotspot for coronavirus. The agency said it is supporting states and counties across the country as part of the White House’s COVID-19 “Surge Team.”

Nationally, data collected by the CDC show that the deaths and confirmed infections of nursing home staff have decreased significantly since vaccination began in January. However, the number of deaths reported among staff began to sneak up again., Fuel new concerns.

According to a CDC slide provided to the Associated Press, 16 fully vaccinated residents were infected and 4 died at one memory care facility in the Grand Junction area. Residents who died received hospice care, with a median age of 93, indicating that they were particularly frail.

The CDC has not published the findings, but said it will publish the results in future weekly morbidity and mortality reports. The slides were shared with the AP by a person involved in an internal deliberations that requested anonymity because they were not authorized to publish the data.

The CDC found that out of 16 fully vaccinated residents infected at memory care facilities, 13 developed symptoms, most often described as mild.

The CDC has investigated several nursing homes in Mesa County that are experiencing new outbreaks. At one location called “Facility A,” 42% of staff had not yet been fully vaccinated, but only about 8% of residents were unable to complete the shot.

The CDC has found a COVID-19 infection rate of 30% between vaccinated residents and facility staff, with residents accounting for the majority of cases.

Throughout the pandemic, caregivers bear a disproportionate burden of suffering and death, not to mention increased isolation due to blockades. Nursing home residents are estimated to make up about 1% of the US population, but make up about 22% of COVID-19 deaths, with more than 133,400 dead.

Experts generally agree that staff is one of the main incentives for the outbreak of nursing homes. This is because workers can unknowingly bring in the virus from the surrounding community before they develop symptoms.

With the advent of vaccines and active efforts to immunize the population, cases and deaths have plummeted and elderly housing with care has emerged from the blockade. However, COVID-19 has not been wiped out. As of the week leading up to July 4, 410 residents were ill and 146 died nationwide.

Colorado is not the only state to see outbreaks of nursing homes, as most of our staff remain unvaccinated.

In Indiana, less than half (44%) of staff were fully vaccinated, and seven residents died of COVID-19, said Dr. Emily Backer, Howard County Health Officer. Eleven additional residents were positive in the outbreak, which authorities believe began in mid-June.

Backer added that one of the dead was fully vaccinated and five fully vaccinated residents were among those who tested positive. She didn’t name the facility.

Backers admitted that the immunization rate for 44% of staff at the facility was “lower than we expected.”

“But at this point, they can’t force them,” she added.

Backer said he was plagued by continued resistance to vaccination, boosted by exaggerated claims about side effects. Some experts fear that, at least in some communities, the hard-earned progress in controlling the emergence of nursing homes can be lost.

Laura Gelezunas is directly experiencing a breakthrough in a nursing home.

After multiple phone calls and emails to her mother’s nursing home in Missouri and her headquarters in Tennessee, Gelezunas finally confirmed that her mother’s congestion, headache, and sore throat were symptoms of COVID-19. ..

However, Gelezunas said the facility was not transparent about how the vaccinated mother, Joann, got sick. The house refers to outside visitors, but Gelezunas said the mother’s only visitors were her brother and his wife, both vaccinated. Gelezunas believes it was an unvaccinated staff, but the house has not yet given her answer.

Gelezunas called on mothers to interact only with vaccinated workers, but directors could not make promises for privacy reasons and because workers could not be vaccinated. Said that.

“My mom is bedridden. I had people take care of her, and you tell me someone you were vaccinated to take care of her for $ 7,500 a month. I’m telling me I can’t have it, “said Gelezunas, who lives in Mexico.

Joan told her daughter that 12 to 15 inhabitants have recently been infected with the virus. It was discovered by one of her aides.

When it comes to requesting vaccination, one obstacle is that the COVID-19 vaccine has not yet been fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration and is being administered under an emergency permit.

“What we have to do is go beyond the standards of emergency use and make (vaccination) standard treatment,” said a nonprofit organization working to improve treatment for the elderly. John A. Hartford Foundation Chairman Terry Fulmer said.

Government figures highlighting potential vulnerabilities show that there are large disparities between states in nursing home vaccination. Vermont fully vaccinates 95% of nursing home residents, compared to 61% in Nevada. Hawaii is a staff vaccination leader, with 84% fully vaccinated. But in Louisiana, that’s half, 42%.

David Grabowski, a professor of health care policy at Harvard University, said he believes trust is a central issue for many unvaccinated nursing home staff. Low-wage workers may not be very confident in the vaccine message from facility managers.

“I think some of this reflects what we see in the overall population, but among healthcare professionals, it’s really embarrassing,” Grabowski said.

Indiana County health official backers have accused swirling false information.

“There’s a lot of really bad information out there that isn’t entirely true,” she said. “I’m really sad because I think it has the power to end this with vaccination. No one else needs to die from it.”


Dearen reported from New York City. Contributed by Associated Press writer Kathleen Foody of Chicago and Patty Nieberg of Denver.

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