Outbreaks at Long Term Care Facilities decrease, but remain high

Published: Dec. 4, 2020 at 7:36 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - For the first time in more than a month, outbreaks at long term care facilities decrease significantly. Around 35 facilities were removed from outbreak status from Thursday to Friday.

Outbreaks at Long Term Care Facilities increase significantly after the state began testing more people, after a requirement from the federal government. 42% of all deaths related to Covid-19 in Iowa are from those facilities. Yet, cases inside Long Term Care Facilities make up 2% of all the positive cases in the state.

In late September, the state reported 50 outbreaks, which was a record at the time. As of Friday, the state reported 139 outbreaks.

Brad Anderson, who is the state director for Iowa AARP, said the state could decrease the number of outbreaks by addressing staffing shortages while increasing testing along with PPE. But, the state has increased testing and says it has months worth of PPE nursing homes can request.

He commended the Governor for those actions but said more steps need to be done.

“But obviously there’s more work to do,” Anderson said. “The numbers don’t lie. I mean when you go from 15 outbreaks in July to currently 163 outbreaks, something is going on.”

Brent Willet, who is the President and CEO of the Iowa Health Care Association, said although he believes outbreaks are important he’s more concerned about the number of deaths than the number of cases.

He said those numbers are more important because of the Iowa Department of Public Health’s definition of outbreak.

The state considers a facility under an outbreak if three patients or more test positive. A facility is removed from the list after 28 days with no new positive cases.

He said that makes it more difficult to no longer become an outbreak and distinguish between facilities with many more cases.

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