GET OUR PEOPLE OUT!
Studies show that about 8% of people who live in US long-term-care facilities had died of COVID-19 – nearly 1 in 12. However, in nursing facilities alone, the death toll jumped to nearly 1 in 10. With vaccinations, COVID deaths plummeted. But with Delta the game has changed, and the next pandemic may already be here.
The CDC reports the Delta variant is so contagious that it acts almost like a different novel virus, leaping to victims more swiftly than Ebola or the common cold and is as transmissible as chickenpox – with each infected person infecting up to eight or nine others, on average and that vaccinated individuals may become infected and then infect others and that “vaccine breakthrough cases will occur more frequently in congregate settings, and in groups at risk of primary vaccine failure (i.e., immune compromised, elderly, etc.).” Worse, the Delta variant may cause more severe disease than Alpha or other previous strains.
The implications for institutionalized individuals, particularly elderly and Disabled individuals in nursing facilities, are significant. Since 18.7% of nursing facility residents and 41.4% of nursing facility staff still have NOT been vaccinated for COVID countless nursing facility residents are sitting ducks for the virus. Mutations and breakthrough infections have become more frequent and nursing facility residents are most at risk for that outcome. Additionally, because nursing facility residents were among the first to be vaccinated, it is likely that any waning of immunity will first appear in this group as shown by new clusters of nursing facility deaths across the country.
Given increased transmissibility, lower vaccine effectiveness, and current vaccine coverage, nonpharmaceutical interventions—especially the physical removal of susceptible patients– are needed to reduce transmission of Delta variant.
People may assume that the COVID-19 deaths in nursing facilities and other institutions were unavoidable or exacerbated because people in institutions are “sick” and “frail,” but research shows the primary determinant of their outcome was where housed!
In the face of the Delta variant (and other future variants), there is one critical thing that the De Santis Administration in Florida and Governors in every State need to do to safeguard the lives of individuals in all congregate settings:
GET OUR PEOPLE OUT!
The time to act is now! Whether there is another new and even more virulent variant or immunity from the current vaccines wanes, we cannot wait to take action until residents in nursing facilities and other congregate settings begin dying. By then, as we saw during the early stages of the pandemic, any meaningful response will be too late to prevent needless deaths.
AND KEEP PEOPLE OUT!
The disregard for these lives is appalling. Aside from being at greater risk of dying from COVID-19, institutionalized elderly or disabled individuals are seen as less-than-human. As we struggle to come out of the pandemic, we must not epeat the mistakes of the past and sacrifice our elderly loved ones to the virus and political inaction.
And to get us there we need a Governor who will lead us.
Dr. Sam Sugar