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Report: COVID Cases Surge in SD Long-Term Care

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Friday, December 11, 2020   

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - A leading group advocating for seniors has a new report about COVID cases in South Dakota nursing homes - and the findings paint a troubling picture as providers try to keep residents safe.

The latest COVID-19 dashboard from AARP says South Dakota is well above the national rate for recent case numbers and death averages. Between mid-October and mid-November, the state saw 22 new COVID-19 cases per 100 long-term-care residents, up from 5.5 in the previous four week period, and the fatality average topped all other states.

AARP South Dakota State Director Erik Gaikowski said staff members becoming infected is a big concern, too.

"These are just some alarming trends that we're seeing across the country, but also here in South Dakota," said Gaikowski. "And we're just calling upon our leaders in the state to do as much as possible to protect our most vulnerable South Dakotans."

Gaikowski said that should include doubling up on efforts to add staff and protective gear as the virus reenters many facilities from community spread.

AARP is providing these monthly snapshots using self-reporting data nursing homes send to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The imminent distribution of vaccines is giving hope to public-health officials trying to reverse COVID trends. Gaikowski said even though long-term-care residents are high on the list for early doses, now is not the time for the state or providers to let their guard down.

"People are very excited about the fact that the vaccine is so close to us," said Gaikowski. "But we want to make sure that there's enough PPE, there's enough testing; that we're maintaining the level of care that is needed in those facilities."

The report also says 77% of nursing homes were without a one week supply of PPE, up from 23% in the last reporting period. And 60% of nursing homes reported staffing shortages.



Disclosure: AARP South Dakota contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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