Jul 21, 2020 - Health

Hotspot states see more COVID cases in nursing homes

An illustration of a man in a wheelchair

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Coronavirus hotspots have seen a surge of new infections in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

Why it matters: Older and sicker people are at much higher risk for serious illness and death, and are at risk from these growing outbreaks despite efforts to protect elder-care facilities.

The big picture: One of the dominant narratives about the Sunbelt surge in new cases is that the infected population is younger, and therefore at less risk. But that’s not the whole story.

By the numbers: Over a 14 day-period ending July 10, new cases in long-term care facilities rose by 18 percent across the 23 hotspot states for which data are available.

  • Florida led the way with a 51% increase, and Texas saw a 47% increase within long-term care facilities. California's long-term care facilities experienced a 23% increase in new infections.
  • Arizona did not report this data.

These spikes almost certainly reflect significant community spread, as well as shortages of protective equipment within the facilities.

The bottom line: The lesson for long-term care facilities may be the same as the lesson for schools: There is no way to get a handle on coronavirus in one setting without first controlling community spread overall.

  • The data suggest that when the virus is spreading widely among younger people in fitness centers, or bars, or house parties, it’s going to find its way to older and more vulnerable people.
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