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Stories and information in our region on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nursing Home Residents Are 50% Of COVID-19 Deaths In Connecticut

Frank Franklin II
A patient is brought to the Northbridge Health Care Center last week in Bridgeport. To slow the spread of coronavirus inside nursing homes, Connecticut is transferring infected residents to off-site recovery centers after their release from hospitals.

Deaths at nursing homes now account for nearly half of all COVID-19-related fatalities in Connecticut.

Newly released statewide numbers show a dire increase in cases and deaths. 

At least one resident has died in the majority of the state’s nursing homes. And death rates at some facilities are approaching one in four residents.

The state chief medical examiner said last week some nursing homes aren’t reporting deaths. Governor Ned Lamont ordered nursing homes to make daily status reports to the state.

The president of the state’s largest nursing home association said facilities have followed all guidance and best practices.

At the same time, nursing home workers in Connecticut say they still lack sufficient personal protective equipment.

Some say they’ve been asked to wear one gown for an eight-hour shift and have reported making their own gowns out of trash bags.

Barbara Cass, chief of healthcare quality and safety at the state Department of Public Health, says they follow up on every complaint they get.

"We too have heard the stories and have followed up on the trash bags and in many of those cases – in all of the cases thus far – that has been the preference of the employee, that has not been supported by the employer. But, that's what they've felt comfortable doing."

Cass says DPH gets 50 to 60 calls a day from Connecticut nursing homes reporting a PPE shortage. She says only a small number of them are urgent.

Their union, SEIU 1199, is calling on the state to provide more funding for nursing homes.

Read the latest on WSHU’s coronavirus coverage here.

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Davis Dunavin loves telling stories, whether on the radio or around the campfire. He started in Missouri and ended up in Connecticut, which, he'd like to point out, is the same geographic trajectory taken by Mark Twain.
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