Infection with the novel coronavirus in an assisted living facility can increase the risk of death, according to a new report.
At least 21 percent of patients with COVID-19 died from the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Thursday.
Additionally, at least 22 percent of all assisted living facilities in the United States had one or more cases of the virus among residents or employees.
The residents of these facilities are at high risk not only because of their age and underlying health conditions, but also because they live in close proximity to others, making it difficult to practice social distancing.
A new CDC report found that of the nearly 28,000 assisted living facility residents who contracted coronavirus, around 21% died. Pictured: Administrator Jackeline Bones (left) chats with Sister Jeanne Arsenault over lunch at St. Chretienne Retirement Residence, a home for Catholic nuns in Marlborough, Massachusetts, August 2020
Although qualified care facilities have federal reporting requirements if a resident or employee is infected with the coronavirus, there are no reporting requirements for assisted living facilities.
These centers are aimed at seniors who are more independent than those in nursing homes but still need support with activities such as bathing or taking prescribed medication.
For the report, the team searched the Ministry of Health’s websites weekly for assisted living facilities with one or more COVID-19 cases.
Because there is no federal system that oversees assisted living facilities, which are reported differently by state.
Some states provided COVID-19 case or death numbers for individual facilities by name, while others had to be identified by linking the addresses to general public listings.
At the end of the research period, on October 15, more than 28,600 assisted living facilities in 39 states had at least one documented case of the virus.
Iowa had the lowest number of facilities with COVID-19 cases, with only 1.3 reporting at least one illness and Connecticut having the most at 92.8 percent.
Ten states – Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Dakota, Utah, and Washington – reported one or more cases in 50 percent or more of the assisted living facilities.
In total, nearly 28,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported among residents and around 17,800 among employees.
By last month, nearly 5,500 residents – about 21 percent of patients – had died from coronavirus.
This means that one in five residents died of COVID-19, compared to one in 40 in the general population.
In addition, 46 employees died from the virus, or about 0.6 percent.
Assisted living residents and employees accounted for 4.1 percent and 0.1 percent of COVID-19-related deaths in the general population, respectively.
For comparison: In these states, a total of 2.5 percent of people infected with the coronavirus died.
“Assisted living facilities, like all long-term care facilities, should remain vigilant to prevent the introduction and spread of SARS-CoV-2 in their facilities,” the authors of the CDC report write.
The agency recommends that each facility identify a point of contact with the local health department to ensure they can promptly notify officials if an outbreak occurs.
In addition, managers should inform local residents, family members and employees about COVID-19 and have a plan for restrictions on visitors and employees.
Employees and residents should also be encouraged to wear masks and practice social distancing, as well as quickly identify and respond to anyone with confirmed or suspected cases of the virus.