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 Nursing Homes Still Short on PPE, Threatened by New COVID Spikes in States

Nursing homes in several states continue to have less than a one-week’s supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), according to a new report from the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL).

Using data from Johns Hopkins University, AHCA/NCAL compiled a state-by-state breakdown of the positive COVID-19 test rate and number of nursing homes in those states.

The second part of the report includes data that were released July 30, 2020, by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) from required federal reporting by nursing homes across the country on their current supply of PPE. According to the CMS data, many states still have a significant percentage of facilities without vital PPE, including N95 masks, surgical masks, and gowns.
Mark Parkinson, AHCA/NCAL president and chief executive officer, says the report underscores the urgent need for increased testing and PPE to keep the virus from spreading.  

The continued shortage of vital PPE supplies for nursing homes across the U.S. is a major concern, especially for states with recent spikes in new COVID cases,” says Parkinson.   

On July 22, 2020, CMS announced that it “will begin requiring, rather than recommending, that all nursing homes in states with a 5 percent positivity rate or greater test all nursing home staff each week.” According to the report, since July 26, there are 33 states with a positive test rate of over 5 percent, and if implemented today, 11,640 nursing homes would be required to conduct such weekly testing.

“Governors and state health agencies, especially in these 33 states, need to take immediate action to protect our seniors and health care heroes by ensuring long term care facilities have adequate supplies of PPE (including N95 masks) and staff support as well as facilitating expedited test results for our residents and caregivers,” says Parkinson.

“We also need members of the public to do their part to help reduce spread by wearing a mask in public and continuing to practice social distancing. We all have a duty to defend our nation’s greatest generation and their essential caregivers.”

AHCA/NCAL, which represents more than 14,000 nursing homes and assisted living communities, sent a letter two weeks ago to the National Governors Association. The letter warns states of imminent outbreaks at nursing homes and assisted living facilities given the major spikes in new cases in several states across the United States, combined with serious PPE shortages and significant delays (up to five days or more) in getting testing results for long term care residents and caregivers.

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