Long-term care facilities' coronavirus cases skyrocketed in three weeks due to omicron

Long-term care facilities’ coronavirus cases have skyrocketed over three weeks due to the omicron variant. 

The American Health Care Association (AHCA) and National Center for Assisted Living, which represents more than 14,000 nursing homes across the country, found that cases spiked between Dec. 19 and Jan. 9.

COVID-19 cases for nursing home residents on Dec. 19 were at 4,361, and cases on Jan. 9 were at 32,061. For nursing home staff, cases went from 5,919 on Dec. 19 to 57,243 on Jan. 9. 

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“As soon as news of Omicron broke in December, we were very concerned this variant would lead to a surge of cases in the U.S. and therefore, an increase in cases in nursing homes and unfortunately it has,” Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA and​​ National Center for Assisted Living, said.

“We urged members of the public to help us protect our nation’s seniors ahead of the holiday season, and we reiterate that plea today. Help support our frontline caregivers and safeguard our most vulnerable by getting vaccinated, boosted and masked,” he added.

The group reported that the rate of death was 10 times lower among nursing home residents in December of 2021 compared to 2020, crediting vaccines and booster shots for the decrease in severity.

The number of weekly COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents in Dec. 2020 was at 6,219, and on Jan. 9 of 2022 it was at 645. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also recorded an uptick in nursing home coronavirus cases, with more than 30,000 cases nationally in January. 

Health care workers have strived throughout the pandemic to prevent outbreaks of COVID-19 in nursing homes, as the virus is most dangerous to the elderly, especially those above the age of 65 with poor health.