The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) said the confirmation that the new strain of COVID-19 discovered in the United Kingdom has been found in an individual who was assisting a Colorado nursing home highlights the need to prioritize long term care residents and staff for vaccines and other critical supplies.

Mark Parkinson, president and chief executive officer of AHCA/NCAL, said the news that the new strain of COVID-19 has been confirmed and connected with a Colorado nursing home indicates the fight by long term care providers against the virus is far from over.

“This development comes at a time when long term care facilities are facing the worst outbreak since the spring,” he said.

“Soaring community spread has resulted in a record-breaking number of cases and deaths in nursing homes—nearly 25,000 cases and 4,000 deaths per week. This is why long term care residents and staff must be prioritized for critical resources, especially distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines.”

Parkinson said given the asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic spread of the virus, coupled with the vulnerability of long term care populations, the vaccines will literally be a lifesaver for tens of thousands of residents.

“In addition, providers need ongoing support with personal protective equipment (PPE), testing, and staffing. We will continue to do everything in our power to protect our residents and staff, but we need the full support of federal and state governments to win this war," he said.