Nearly nearly half of Iowa’s COVID-19 deaths have been nursing-home residents, state health officials say. That’s prompted more safety measures at these facilities, and a watchdog group says all states need to do more testing.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the new coronavirus has been detected in least 400 of the nation’s nursing homes.
Brian Lee, executive director of the group Families for Better Care, said there’s a wide variation in how long-term care facilities are protecting this vulnerable age group. He said state health departments need to make testing a priority, both for residents and the people taking care of them.
The lack of available COVID-19 tests in the United States has been well documented. Labs remain overwhelmed, despite capacity buildup. This week, Iowa health officials updated the public on safety measures at nursing homes. Workers are encouraged to screen every resident for key symptoms daily, and facilities are urged to work with local health departments to get tests for people with symptoms.
Sarah Reisetter, deputy director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, said face masks and eye protection are required for all types of resident care. There’s protocol if a staff member shows symptoms.
Lee said at the onset of the pandemic, elected officials promised to make nursing homes a priority. However, he said, he believes that’s no longer the case.
The care industry now has to plead for protective gear at its facilities, he said.
Iowa cases are online at idph.iowa.gov.