All 62 residents in a Kansas nursing home have tested positive for COVID-19, health officials announced Monday. Of those 62 residents, 10 have died, one is hospitalized, and the rest of the residents are currently being quarantined and treated at the facility.
The news came from a press release from the Norton County Health Department posted on Facebook. The outbreak occurred at the Andbe Home, a privately-owned facility in Norton, Kansas. In addition to the ill residents, an unspecified number of staff members also tested positive, and the remaining staff are currently being tested, as well.
In an interview with NBC affiliate KSN-TV, one man, Robert Brooks, opened up about losing his uncle as a result of the Andbe Home COVID-19 outbreak. "He already died at the Andbe Home alone with no family being able to visit him, no contact," he said. "It doesn't seem fair for the end of life."
Brooks also issued a warning to others about COVID-19 in his interview: “Respect it, it is a real thing and people are really dying—just be aware of your situation and take the precautions needed.”
Since America began feeling the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing homes and long-term care facilities have been a large driving factor in coronavirus infections and deaths. In September, The New York Times published data from a review of COVID-19 cases in the US, revealing that about a fifth of deaths from the virus in the United States have been linked to nursing homes or other long-term care facilities. At that time, more than 36,500 residents and employees in those facilities across the nation had contracted the virus.
"They're death pits," Betsy McCaughey, a former lieutenant governor of New York who founded the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths, an education campaign aimed at stopping hospital-acquired infections, told The NYT. "These nursing homes are already overwhelmed. They're crowded and they're understaffed. One Covid-positive patient in a nursing home produces carnage."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains that these facilities are most at-risk because of their "communal nature," with patients living in very close quarters. The specific population served—mainly older individuals, often with underlying medical conditions—also put those living in nursing homes and long-term care facilities at a higher risk of infection and severe illness from COVID-19.
In situations where a nursing home or long-term care facility has experienced an outbreak, the CDC recommends all visitation to facilities with positive COVID-19 cases should be restricted—a step which has been implemented at the Andbe House—except for "certain compassionate care reasons, such as end-of-life situations." In these cases, the CDC advises making decisions on a case-by-case basis, and including careful screening of the visitor for fever or other known COVID-19 symptoms. The CDC also advises posting signs at the entrances to the facility advising that no visitors may enter.
In the press release, the health department noted that, in partnership with the Andbe Home, Norton County Hospital, and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, "steps are being taken to prevent any further outbreak including quarantining residents in their rooms and not allowing outside visitors into the facility." Family members of all affected residents have also been notified of the situation. Health reached out to Andbe Home for further comment, but had not yet received one at the time of publication.
The information in this story is accurate as of press time. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it's possible that some data have changed since publication. While Health is trying to keep our stories as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations for their own communities by using the CDC, WHO, and their local public health department as resources.
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