72% of Long Beach coronavirus deaths are at nursing homes. The city is imposing new rules
With 72% of Long Beach’s COVID-19-related deaths in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, the city on Wednesday issued a new health order that requires the institutions to immediately follow a tough set of protocols to slow the spread.
Of Long Beach’s 18 deaths, 13 have involved residents at a handful of the city’s care facilities. Given the disproportionate number of deaths unfolding in the nursing homes, the city adopted a strict visitation policy allowing very few to enter such facilities, mandating face coverings and requiring daily temperature screenings for staff and residents.
“Our top priority must be to protect those at highest risk of developing serious complications from COVID-19,” Mayor Robert Garcia said. “This new health order ensures that we are doing everything we can to minimize the risk of spread in long-term care facilities.”
Long-term care facilities have become the epicenter of the coronavirus throughout the nation. Their concentration of elderly people with underlying health problems makes them exceptionally vulnerable to outbreaks.
Long Beach has reported 379 positive results, including 49 people who are hospitalized and about 190 people who have recovered. Of those, some 84 positive cases have been confirmed at six long-term care facilities, including both residents and staff.
Echoing concerns from public health officials across California, Long Beach city officials said because of the concentrated living conditions and the nature of the services provided, long-term care facilities pose a greater challenge when it comes to preventing the spread of infection. In nursing homes, city officials said, physical distancing is not sufficient.
The city immediately limited entry to the homes to employees, first responders, medical professionals or contracted essential workers. Visitors are immediately banned except for end-of-life visits under certain circumstances. Daily temperature checks and coronavirus screenings are also now required for all staff members and residents along with anyone else entering the facility.
The new rules apply to any locations serving those 65 and older and extend beyond skilled nursing facilities to include chronic dialysis clinics, hospice facilities and psychiatric institutions.
The city Health Department’s Communicable Disease Control Program staff has been communicating regularly with the city’s 93 long-term care facilities and working in partnership with the California Department of Public Health’s infection preventionists to assist, monitor and enforce proper protocols to prevent infection among older adults.
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