AARP Wyoming reports that residents of Wyoming’s nursing homes continue to be impacted by COVID-19 the most. According to the report, Wyoming has the third-highest ratio of COVID-related deaths per 100 nursing home residents, in the nation.

The AARP COVID 19 Nursing Home Dashboard reported that because of Wyoming’s Nursing Home Resident Deaths ratio of 2.95 to every 100 residents, the state is ranked third in the nation for deaths, behind South Dakota and Montana. Additionally, Wyoming ranks seventh in the nation in terms of the number of nursing home resident cases of COVID, with a ratio of 12.4 per 100. That means, in layman’s terms, that 12 out of every 100 nursing home residents have tested positive for COVID, and almost 3 out of every 100 residents have died as a result of COVID.

Over the course of the four week period ending Nov. 15, 2020, residents of skilled nursing facilities made up 85% of all COVID-related deaths in Wyoming. For the entire year, nursing home residents have accounted for 71 deaths, or 58% percent of all COVID-related deaths, recorded in Wyoming.

Beyond just those afflicted with COVID-19, the virus has also impacted those who work in nursing facilities. Per the AARP report, 63.6% of nursing homes have reported a staffing shortage of direct care workers for the month ending Nov. 15. That number is up 52% from the previous month. Additionally, there have been numerous increases of positive COVID cases amongst nursing home staff. Data from AARP suggests a rate of 13 staff cases per 100 residents, which is up from 3.9 staff cases per 100 residents in the previous four-week period.

Staffing issues are not the only things affecting residential nursing facilities. The number of nursing homes with less than a month's worth of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) has also increased from 26% to to 30.3% within a month's time. N95 masks were listed as the toughest items to find, followed by gowns and gloves.

Because of these current factors, nursing homes are relying even more on residents and visitors abiding by the regulations put in place to combat COVID-19.

“These numbers really underscore the need for visitors to nursing homes to be cognizant of policies put in-place to keep their loved ones safe,” says AARP Wyoming State Director Sam Shumway. “We have heard reports in recent weeks of the public ignoring safety protocols. When that happens, nursing home residents and staff suffer.”

The following is the AARP's policy stance on COVID and its affect on nursing homes.

"More than 106,000 residents and staff of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have died from COVID-19, representing about 40 percent of all coronavirus fatalities in the U.S. Yet federal policymakers have been slow to respond to this crisis, and no state has done a good enough job to stem the loss of life. AARP has called for the enactment of a 5-point plan to protect nursing home and long-term care facility residents — and save lives — at the federal and state levels:

·         Prioritize regular and ongoing testing and adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for residents and staff — as well as inspectors and any visitors.

·         Improve transparency focused on daily, public reporting of cases and deaths in facilities; communication with families about discharges and transfers; and accountability for state and federal funding that goes to facilities.

·         Ensure access to in-person visitation following federal and state guidelines for safety, and require continued access to virtual visitation for all residents.

·         Ensure quality care for residents through adequate staffing, oversight, and access to in-person formal advocates, called long-term care Ombudsmen.

·         Reject immunity for long-term care facilities related to COVID-19.

The federal government has taken some action, such as requiring nursing homes to self-report COVID-19 cases and deaths at the federal level, ordering testing, and providing limited PPE and other resources to nursing homes, as well as issuing guidance for in-person visitation to resume. But, as cases and deaths continue to rise, more must be done. AARP continues to urge elected officials to take action to combat this national tragedy — and to ensure that public funds provided to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are used for testing, PPE, staffing, virtual visits, and for the health and safety of residents.

AARP will continue to shine a light on what’s happening in nursing homes so that families have the information they need to make decisions, and lawmakers can be held accountable. For more information, visit aarp.org/nursinghomes."

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