Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra stated that the omicron variant is "lightning fast" and said that it was impossible to afford another COVID-19 increase in nursing homes. You know that. That is what I know. We would see a rise in COVID cases that could have devastating effects on our loved ones.
President Joe Biden claims that the United States is better equipped to deal with a rising virus than last winter's. Nursing homes serve as a test bed. Even though residents make up a small percentage of the population, they account for a large proportion of Americans who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The advent of vaccines helped to control the virus in nursing homes, allowing them to reopen to the public earlier this year. However, the return to normalcy may be at risk as COVID-19 cases rise to new heights due to the omicron variant.
According to data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of cases among staff at nursing homes rose to 10,353 in the week ended Dec. 27, an increase of almost 80% over the previous week. The number of staff deaths rose to 58, a tripling over the week before. Residents who have been more heavily vaccinated saw their cases rise slightly, but there was no increase in deaths.
Becerra stated that only 57% of residents in nursing homes and 25% of staff have received booster shots, despite medical experts advising against it. According to White House statistics, this is clearly below the booster rate of 66% for people 65 and older and about 45% among adults.
Becerra stated, "We have to change that."
Administration is asking 1,400 federally-funded community health centers to work with local nursing homes as part of a renewed vaccination campaign.