Residents at nursing homes and long-term care facilities have the highest risk of contracting COVID-19 and remain to be the most vulnerable, according to data presented by state officials.
Newly released data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) indicates that nearly 26,000 residents and 449 staff members have died from the virus in the United States.
Rachel Bunch, executive director of the Arkansas Health Care Association, joined Gov. Asa Hutchinson at his 1:30 p.m. press conference to comment on the statewide testing initiative and reopening of nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
Bunch shared nursing home data related to COVID-19 from the CMS which is based on the number of cases and deaths per 1,000 nursing home residents.
“Arkansas has an average of 23.6 cases per 1,000 patients, where the national average is 62 patients. So, we are much lower there,” Bunch said. “Arkansas has had an average of six resident deaths out of every 1,000 versus the national average of 27.5. Arkansas was 40 first, in a good way, in total nursing home staff cases per every 1,000 in every nursing home. The average for Arkansas is 13.9 and the national average is 39.5.”
There have been no deaths reported amongst long-term staff members in Arkansas.
According to Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith, there are 102 active COVID-19 cases in nursing homes. Nursing home residents and staff members represent 5.2 percent of the total cases, but 4.6 of the active cases. There have been a total of 423 residents and 289 staff members who have tested positive for the virus.
“We have proposed an individual facility approach for reopening. As the governor stated, some facilities have been affected by the virus, but many—I would say most—have not been,” Bunch said. “This would allow for facilities who complete their statewide baseline testing to start this reopening process with limitations in place as outlined by the health department.”
With the proposed plan, some facilities may open before others and will need to have all negative COVID-19 tests.