‘Nursing home defenses have been penetrated,’ Austin-area health officials warn after COVID-19 cases spike

Nursing Home Investigations

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin-Travis County data shows a spike in new cases at nursing and assisted living facilities.

In a presentation to the Travis County Commissioner’s Court on Tuesday, 240 new cases were reported in long-term care facilities last week. Austin Public Health Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott compared that to the week before, when 48 new cases were reported.

The data revealed 218 staff members and 253 residents have now tested positive.

Graph of Long-Term Care facility COVID-19 cases presented by Austin Public Health to Travis County Commissioners on Tuesday

Dr. Escott said they are starting to see spread across age groups, and officials are worried how a surge in cases in the community has affected the vulnerable populations inside these facilities.

“Our nursing home defenses have been penetrated, and we are seeing numbers like we were seeing early on in this outbreak,” he said. “This provides us evidence that we have to do better at reducing the community transmission, and two — we have to have additional resources to do more aggressive testing and containment.”

He noted that a state testing contract with CVS-Omnicare will help. They hope to receive more details on that effort to test nursing home residents and staff later this week.

MORE: On-site, same-day COVID-19 testing coming to Texas nursing homes, assisted living facilities

Dr. Escott said they had identified seven facilities in need of assistance from “strike teams” — four have been deployed, while three are waiting for personnel to be assigned.

He reiterated the link between the spread in the general population and the affect on elderly residents.

“Again, this is a very concerning trend — we had again over a 20% increase in deaths,” he said. “We again have to attribute this to our increasing spread of disease in our long term care facilities and amongst those who are at the higher risk or are elderly individuals and those with significant underlying health conditions.”

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