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Nursing homes see spike in new COVID cases

| August 12, 2020 10:36 AM

Nursing homes are experiencing a spike in new COVID-19 cases due to community spread among the general population, according to a new report from the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL).

Community spread means at least one person has been infected with the virus and it cannot be determined how or where they became infected. The individual(s) did not travel and had no identified contact with another person with COVID-19.

In North Idaho, community spread has been identified in Kootenai, Benewah and Bonner counties.

Data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services show COVID-19 cases in nursing homes significantly increased last month after having dropped significantly throughout the month of June.

The report also showed COVID-related deaths in nursing homes had declined significantly but have started to increase again in recent weeks.

Idaho’s positive COVID-19 test percentage is among the highest in the nation, according to a report from AHCA/NCAL.

Using data from Johns Hopkins University, the AHCA/NCAL compiled a state-by-state breakdown of the positive COVID-19 test rate.

In Idaho, the seven-day positive test percentage is 17.6% — the fifth-highest rate in the nation, lower only than Arizona, Mississippi, Florida and Alabama.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reported that, as of Aug. 7, there have been 122 outbreaks and 1,321 total cases of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities, defined as a nursing home, assisted living facility or intermediate care facility. There are 82 nursing homes in Idaho and more than 400 long-term care facilities.

There have been 125 coronavirus-related deaths associated with 36 facilities.

Ivy Court in Coeur d’Alene is reported to have 42 cases of COVID-19 among residents and staff, while Orchard Ridge in Coeur d’Alene has three cases, Guardian Angel Homes in Post Falls has one case.

North Idaho facilities with resolved outbreaks include Honeysuckle Senior Living and Maplewood Assisted Living in Hayden and the Bridge at Post Falls.

According to the AHCA/NCAL, which represents more than 14,000 nursing homes and assisted living facilities, 23% of Idaho nursing homes do not have a one-week supply of N95 masks, while eight percent do not have a one-week supply of surgical masks or gowns.

“Given the fact we are several months into the response of this pandemic and the lack of PPE supplies is still an issue is very concerning,” said Mark Parkinson, President and CEO, American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living, in a letter to the National Governors Association.

There are 2,275 reported cases of COVID-19 in the Panhandle Health District, 29 of whom are hospitalized and five of whom are in critical care at Kootenai Health.

At this time, 21 people have died of COVID-19.