COVID cases increase at LA County skilled nursing facilities anew

Photo by Ömer Yıldız on Unsplash

With high rates of transmission across Los Angeles County, positive cases and outbreaks are increasing at skilled nursing facilities, the public health department reported on Friday, June 10.

For the week ending May 29, skilled nursing facilities reported 114 new cases among residents and 205 new cases among staff.

This represents a 443% and 439% increase in new cases, respectively, when compared to one month ago when there were 21 new cases among residents and 38 new cases among staff for the week ending April 23.

Additionally, the number of outbreaks per week in Skilled Nursing Facilities increased sharply in the past week to 40 new outbreaks during the seven days ending June 7, returning the Early Alert Signal to high.

Public Health is working closely with Skilled Nursing Facilities to respond and mitigate the outbreaks. As a reminder, an outbreak is declared at a nursing facility when there is one resident case. Skilled nursing facilities continue to maintain enhanced protective measures, including indoor masking and testing requirements for residents, staff, and visitors; appropriately isolating and quarantining residents; and limiting communal dining and group activities that can’t be held outdoors.

High levels of vaccination and booster coverage within SNFs help provide life-saving protection. As of May 29, 91% of nursing home residents were fully vaccinated and 79% fully vaccinated and boosted with the first booster dose. Among eligible staff, vaccination rates are also very high with 98% fully vaccinated and 89% fully vaccinated and boosted.

However, while the data is incomplete, it appears that far fewer SNF residents and staff had received a second booster; data to date indicates that second booster doses have been administered to just 22% of eligible residents and 7% of staff.

In order to ensure that eligible nursing home residents and staff are quickly offered the second booster doses, Public Health is continuing to verify that Skilled Nursing Facilities in LA County are able to offer second doses through their relationship with a Long-Term Care Pharmacy or through the Public Health mobile teams. Skilled Nursing Facilities that need a mobile vaccine team can inquire by filling out the COVID-19 Vaccination Special Requests for Healthcare Facilities request form.  Skilled Nursing Facilities with active outbreaks will be scheduled for a mobile team clinic.

“I send my deepest sympathies and wishes of peace and comfort to the many families who have lost a loved one from COVID-19,” said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health. “This sharp increase in cases and outbreaks at SNFs reflects the increase in transmission in the wider community. When we strongly recommend universal COVID precautions, one of the reasons is because we all have a collective opportunity to protect the most vulnerable in our community, including residents in nursing homes. While hard working staff can and do take extra measures to prevent transmission at these facilities, if transmission rates are high in the surrounding community, it increases the likelihood that residents and staff will be exposed to infected individuals. When we mask and take other protective measures during times of rising COVID cases, we are driving down spread and thereby taking steps to protect all of our residents, including the most vulnerable at our nursing homes.”

Public Health on Friday reported eight additional deaths and 6,202 new positive cases. Of the eight new deaths reported today, one person was between the ages of 18-29, one person was between the ages of 50-64, two people were between the ages of 65-79, and four people were aged 80 years or older. Of the eight newly reported deaths, six had underlying health conditions. To date, the total number of deaths in LA County is 32,201.

Public Health has reported a total of 3,025,694 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County. The current positivity rate is 5.0%.

There are 616 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized. Testing results are available for more than 12,072,695 individuals, with 22% of people testing positive. (AJPress)

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