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Report: Connecticut Was Underprepared To Handle COVID-19 In Nursing Homes

Tony Dejak

The Connecticut Department of Public Health did not have an adequate emergency response and surveillance system to handle the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes at the beginning of the pandemic, according to an interim report from a policy consultant hired by Governor Ned Lamont.

Patricia Cowan is with Mathematica, the New Jersey firm that produced the report. She said many of the early coronavirus outbreaks in Connecticut occurred in nursing homes.

While the DPH had a robust emergency response plan for hospitals, it did not have such a plan for nursing homes. Since then, the state has devised a system to isolate COVID-19 patients at specific long term facilities.

“Given that, we recommend that the state begin planning now to increase the capacity of these dedicated facilities," Cowan said. "So that if a second wave does begin, the COVID recovery facilities can be quickly deployed to accept COVID positive residents both from other nursing homes in the community as well as from hospitals.”

Cowan also commended the state for supplying PPE to nursing home staff.

“We recommend that the state continue distribution and potentially scale it up to the extent possible ahead of a potential second wave,” she said.

Other recommendations of the interim report include limiting the number of workers who are allowed to have jobs in multiple nursing homes and the regular testing of staff, residents and outside personnel who visit nursing homes. The final report is to be released in September.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.