Nursing homes are STILL barring families from visiting loved ones because of ongoing COVID outbreaks 'caused by staff and new residents who haven't been vaccinated'

 Nursing homes are continuing to bar families from seeing loved-ones as unvaccinated staff members are blamed for ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks.   

While the outbreaks are much smaller, less frequent and less severe than during the height of the pandemic, there continue to be hundreds of deaths each week attributed to the coronavirus in US nursing homes.

Bosses must continue with quarantine measures when a COVID outbreak is flagged, even though most US nursing home residents have long-since completed their vaccines, meaning they should be immune from a serious infection. 

Federal data show there were 438 nursing home deaths related to COVID-19 in the first two weeks of May, down from 10,700 in the first two weeks of January.

The ongoing deaths are happening despite more than 85 percent of U.S. adults over 65 receiving at least one dose, including 2.14 million residents of long-term care facilities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Those scattered outbreaks have been largely blamed on unvaccinated staff members who are wary about getting the shot as well as new residents who haven't been inoculated.

Nursing homes have resisted calls to force staff to have the vaccine, over fears doing so could further exacerbate staff shortages.  

The cluster of infections and ensuing shutdowns have jolted family members who were just starting to enjoy in-person visits with loved ones for the first time in a year. 

Nursing homes in the U.S. say they're still struggling with coronavirus outbreaks, largely blamed on unvaccinated staff members, despite the vaccine rollout. Pictured: Gloria DeSoto, 92 (right), visits with her family, in their car, from a window of the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, New York

Nursing homes in the U.S. say they're still struggling with coronavirus outbreaks, largely blamed on unvaccinated staff members, despite the vaccine rollout. Pictured: Gloria DeSoto, 92 (right), visits with her family, in their car, from a window of the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, New York

More than 85% of U.S. adults over 65 receiving at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose (pictured), including 2.14 million residents of long-term care facilities, CDC data show

More than 85% of U.S. adults over 65 receiving at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose (pictured), including 2.14 million residents of long-term care facilities, CDC data show

In the first two weeks of May, there were 438 nursing home deaths related to COVID-19 (yellow line), smaller than the figure in January but still high

In the first two weeks of May, there were 438 nursing home deaths related to COVID-19 (yellow line), smaller than the figure in January but still high

'There is this notion among some that vaccines were administered in long-term care, so we're done, and that would be a perilous mistake,' Dr David Gifford, chief medical officer for the American Health Care Association, a national nursing home trade association, said in a statement. 

'Nursing homes and assisted living communities have a constant flow of new residents, whether coming from the hospital or the community, and many of them haven't been vaccinated yet.'   

Jeannie Wells had hoped that regular visits would resume at her elderly mother's New York nursing home once all the residents were fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Around Easter, her wish finally came true, and she was able to hold the 93-year-old's hand for the first time in more than a year, after originally bringing her mother to the facility for rehabilitation for a fractured hip and knee.

But that reunion was short-lived because visits were quickly stopped for about six weeks after an employee tested positive for COVID.

Wells said visits are still far from normal even when there haven't been outbreaks.

In addition, the CDC has warned that low rates of vaccination among health care workers in skilled nursing facilities raises risks of outbreaks.


A federal program that brought vaccines to most nursing homes in the U.S. only immunized half of long-term-care workers - with the remaining half refusing over concerns that the shots are ineffective or unsafe.

A March outbreak involving a variant at a Kentucky nursing home, where most residents had been vaccinated for COVID-19, was traced to an infected, unvaccinated worker, according to a CDC report. 

Among the 46 cases identified, 26 residents and 20 workers became infected, including 18 residents and four workers who were fully vaccinated 14 days before the outbreak.

Three of the nursing home's residents who contracted COVID-19 died, with two of those victims unvaccinated. 

So-called 'breakthrough' infections among vaccinated individuals were also identified in nursing homes in Chicago, according to another recent CDC report.

In Connecticut, Gov Ned Lamont has likened the challenge of keeping the virus out of nursing homes to patching up 'leaky boats.' 

The state Department of Public Health launched Operation Matchmaker to match nursing homes with certain pharmacies to ensure new residents and staff get shots. 

Only about half of long-term care workers were vaccinated during the federal program that brought shots to nursing homes. Pictured: Rosa DeSoto (left) embraces her 93-year-old mother Gloria DeSoto (right), who who suffers from dementia, inside the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, New York, for the first time in  more than a year, March 2021

Only about half of long-term care workers were vaccinated during the federal program that brought shots to nursing homes. Pictured: Rosa DeSoto (left) embraces her 93-year-old mother Gloria DeSoto (right), who who suffers from dementia, inside the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, New York, for the first time in  more than a year, March 2021 

Long-term care providers have been hesitant to mandate vaccinations for their workers due to staff shortages. Pictured: Jack Campise talks with his mother, Beverly Kearns, through her apartment window at the Kimberly Hall North nursing home, in Windsor, Connecticut

Long-term care providers have been hesitant to mandate vaccinations for their workers due to staff shortages. Pictured: Jack Campise talks with his mother, Beverly Kearns, through her apartment window at the Kimberly Hall North nursing home, in Windsor, Connecticut

Hospitals are also working to vaccinate patients before they're released to a nursing facility.

Given staffing shortages around the country, there's been a hesitance among long-term care providers to mandate vaccinations for their workers, said Dr Vivian Leung, director of Connecticut's Department of Health's Healthcare Associated Infections Program.

'We're working with the long-term care industry to really increase the pressure on getting those staff vaccinated,' Leung said.

Tim Brown, director of marketing and communications at Athena Health Care Systems, which operates 48 facilities in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, recently estimated about 50 percent to 60 percent of staff have been vaccinated so far, with as many as 80% in some buildings.

'Throughout our network, we are seeing onesies and twosies, mostly with employees, though, that have not been vaccinated,' Brown said of he infections

'That's really where we´re seeing them.'

If a staff member tests positive, he said, buildings are put under quarantine and visits are put on hold while another round of staff testing is conducted. Unvaccinated staff are being tested regularly.

'If there are no other cases, or if the employee did not work on a specific wing, then we allow visitation for that wing or for for the wings that are not affected by the positive employee,' he said.

Mairead Painter, Connecticut's long-term care ombudsman - an official who investigates maladministration -  said recent guidance from the state has clarified how facilities should handle these scattered outbreaks in order to minimize the impact they can have on the rest of residents and their families. 

She said that's led to fewer complaints fielded by her office.

But Debra Ellis, whose 88-year-old wife Jackie lives in a Meriden, Connecticut, nursing home, said the rules still differ by facility.

Until recently, she had been frustrated by the strict visitation limits, including sudden multi-day shutdowns when staff members have tested positive. Both she and her wife are vaccinated.

By mid-May, things finally eased up and she's been allowed to go inside her wife´s room. 


Yet Ellis hears from relatives of residents at other nursing homes that that's not the case at other facilities in Connecticut.

Ellis is part of a group that's pushing for both state and federal legislation allowing nursing home residents to have essential caregivers. 

She said that could have helped Jackie, who suffers from heart problems and relied on Ellis before the pandemic for emotional support and exercises to keep her legs strong.

'She could get up and walk a very small distance around the room to move to the bed to a chair or whatever,' Ellis said. 'She's no longer able to do that.'

That's a similar experience for Wells, who said the nursing home where her mother lives still has no communal dining, group activities or hairdressing services. 

Wells, who lives in Rochester, said it was only last week that she was offered the opportunity to meet with her mother outside and without masks. 

But after spending so much time isolated during the pandemic, Wells said her mother no longer knows who she is, other than someone who cares about her.

She said it pains her to see her mother, who used to get her hair done weekly, looking unkept, with bangs hanging in her eyes and hair down to her shoulders.

'This nursing home never allowed us into their rooms. We have to stay in an ugly dining room that's been stripped and all the furniture stacked in the corner and in four little pods of tables pushed together and staff staring at you the whole time,' Wells said.

'None of that has changed because they're allowing nursing homes to do their own thing.'

Nursing homes are STILL barring families from visiting loved ones because of ongoing COVID outbreaks 'caused by staff and new residents who haven't been vaccinated' Nursing homes are STILL barring families from visiting loved ones because of ongoing COVID outbreaks 'caused by staff and new residents who haven't been vaccinated' Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 05:03 Rating: 5

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