Michigan seems to be getting a better handle on the coronavirus as vaccine distribution begins and cases level off.
But experts say the risk of exposure is still high, especially in the state's long-term care facilities.
AARP continues to update its Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard
, and the latest data shows sharply increasing resident and staff cases and resident deaths and rising staff shortages.
Melissa Seifert, associate state director for governmental affairs for AARP Michigan
noted that while shortages of personal protective equipment continue, nursing homes without a one-week supply fell from one-in-four to now one-in-five.
"The good news is that we're seeing more PPE [personal protective equipment] going into these facilities, so that's a glimmer of hope," Seifert observed. "One of the main things is keeping these residents safe, and to do that you have to have proper protocol and PPE in place. "
New data from the dashboard shows between Oct. 19 and Nov. 15, new COVID-19 cases per 100 residents rose from 1.9 to 5.2. Staffing shortages rose to about 41% from 36%, and new staff cases rose from 2.5 per hundred to 6.2.
Michigan (red) COVID nursing home resident deaths per 100, compared with national (gray) deaths.
Seifert said a deeper look is needed into why the pandemic is so adversely affecting nursing-home residents, besides the fact that older adults are more susceptible to the virus.
"Why isn't there protocols and procedures in place to make sure that we are testing residents, to make sure that we have proper PPE, to ensure visitations are still happening, to make sure that we're still triaging individuals' care needs through telehealth and telemedicine?" Seifert questioned.
She added transforming and modernizing long-term care services and supports are a priority for AARP in 2021, along with its continued work to expand access to home- and community-based services that can help older adults age in place.
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