State officials say they are better equipped to handle nursing home COVID care

Written by on November 17, 2020

State officials say they are better equipped to handle nursing home COVID care

By Tyler Pratt

November 17, 2020

SDI Productions/Getty Images

While Pennsylvania continues to experience a rise in daily coronavirus cases, state health officials say they are handling outbreaks better in long-term care facilities than in the spring.

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Roughly 27,000 Pennsylvanians live in long-term care facilities like nursing homes. They were hit hard in the spring, forcing lockdowns amid outbreaks and high death rates.

Following criticism of how the state handled elderly care earlier in the year, Teresa Miller, with the Department of Human Services, says they now deploy “Rapid Response Teams” to facilities to mitigate outbreaks “through cohorting, mitigation, infection control practices and transferring patients depending on their COVID status for safe care.”

While COVID cases are rising again in long-term care homes, the department’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Kelly says that doesn’t mean the program’s not working.

“That’s not the measurement of failure, the measure we are really concerned with is the prevention of mortality.”

Mortality rates are currently much lower than in the spring, but they’ve recently ticked up. 

The state’s health department says outbreaks in long-term care facilities will continue if outside communities don’t adhere to mask-wearing and social distancing rules.  

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